Anybody who's still unconvinced about the value of team defense needs to sit down and watch looped footage of this game for 20 or 30 hours until they start to see the light, because as much as Washburn sucked, and as much as the Mariners should've done better than 1-11 with RISP, it was the Toronto infield that decided this game.
It's not a fluke, either. According to The Hardball Times, Toronto's team defense has turned 88 more balls in play into outs than expected - tops among everyone - with the Cubs in second at +51. Their infield is the real strength, coming in with a Revised Zone Rating of .817, against a league average of .776 and a second place rating of .804 (San Francisco). For good measure, Toronto's infielders have also converted 209 out-of-zone plays into outs, ten ahead of the runner-up Cardinals.
It doesn't matter what rating you look at - Overbay/Hill/McDonald/Glaus is the best defensive infield in baseball, and tonight they proved it. They made a handful of good plays, but the two the stick out are the McDonald play on Jones' grounder in the eighth and (obviously) the game-ending DP. If you assume that an average team would've turned the former into an infield single and the latter into a two-run base hit, the Win Expectancy boost for Toronto of just those plays alone was +68.9%.
Johjima double: 22.4% chance of winning
Jones single, corners: 26.2%
Jones out: 14.4%
Difference: +11.8% for Toronto
Guillen HBP: 26.7% chance of winning
Ibanez single, 7-7: 57.1%
Ibanez DP: 0%
Difference: +57.1% for Toronto
Put another way, those two plays hurt us more than twice as much as the worst outing of Washburn's Mariner career. Obviously a big part of it is timing, but defense generally doesn't slump, and if you keep playing it at a high level for long enough, eventually it'll win you a few games like the one tonight.
Bad managing. Bad hitting. Bad starting. Bad relieving. And now bad luck with the opposing team defense. This losing streak sucks, but at least the reasons why it's alive seem to change every day.
Biggest Contribution: RRS, +11.6%
Biggest Suckfest: Jarrod Washburn, -33.4%
Most Important Hit: Ibanez DP, -26.7%
Most Important Pitch: McDonald triple, -18.8%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -25.6%
Total Contribution by Hitters: -24.4%
Total Contribution by Opposition: 0.0%
It's cute that the Rogers Centre plays a hockey goal horn for every home team longball. I guess the Blue Jays started to use it once they realized the Maple Leafs never get to.
I feel like slacking off. Again. On purpose. This team's already waking me up too early tomorrow morning; like hell are they also going to keep me up way late tonight. Sorry, Mariners, but right now you just don't make for very fun writing.