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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Pickoff Moves

Thanks to the miracle of the iPhone, I was able to listen to a fair amount of these games in the Little Rock airport and on the way to dinner...

Angels Beat Up Gavin Floyd, Again: Angels 7, White Sox 1

For some reason, I had it in my head that the Angels have pretty much beat up on Gavin Floyd throughout his career, but the 4.14 ERA he had there, even after last night's start, wasn't what you'd call truly bad; limiting it to his White Sox career against the Angels, he's still looking pretty decent, so maybe I'm thinking of his two 2008 starts against them.

Either way, he had another bad start yesterday, and that was largely thanks to Bobby Abreu, who knocked in single runs on a first inning groundout and a fifth inning sac fly, and Maicer Izturis' fifth inning RBI double that whacked one into the right-center gap to plate two.

Joe Saunders limited the opposition to a single run, a solo blast by second baseman Jayson Nix, but then retired the next 15 batters in a row. One of the oddities they pointed out on the radio broadcast is that Nix is 3-for-5 against Saunders lifetime, and all three are home runs, good for a .600/.600/2.400 line. Go figure.

Incidental oddness: Ozzie Guillen got nailed in the elbow by an Erick Aybar foul ball and was nearly sent to the hospital. I've had my problems with the guy in the past, but I hope he recovers from that soon.

With the Rangers rained out thanks to an extremely heavy weather system passing through (I got caught in it at DFW, myself, and it shut down the airport for about an hour), the Angels' division lead increased to 5.5 games. They'll make it up on a Sunday doubleheader.

Yahoo boxAngels recap

Incidentally, Rangers Selling Playoff Tickets

The Rangers have started selling ALDS tickets even though they're currently two games back of Wild Card-leading Boston in the standings for that berth. It's conceivable that they could do it, but they'll need help from some very weak teams, in the main. The Angels play Boston next week, and then fly to Texas to play their final set in Arlington for the season. Assuming no changes in the standings by the end of the day on Sunday, if the Angels take two of three while the Rangers take the Oakland series, it's conceivable the Rangers could be in a dead heat for the Wild Card or even ahead slightly. Boston is playing Tampa Bay this weekend, and also had a rainout Friday with a doubleheader scheduled for Sunday; unlike Texas, Boston has a day off on Monday before facing the Halos.

Using Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA-adjusted simulations, the Rangers have about an 8% chance of making the postseason.

Dodgers Turn Anti-Merkin, Beat Cain In A Laugher: Dodgers 10, Giants 3

The Dodgers led all the way in a laugher that started out as a decent enough game, with the boys in blue taking the early 2-0 lead off Matt Cain thanks to James Loney's RBI double. Casey Blake got another pair in the sixth on a two-run jack, but then turned ugly for the Giants after Cain left following the sixth. Merkin Valdez (seriously?) then proceeded to give away the Giants' store, giving up a run and walking the bases loaded before recording an out. Thanks to Bob Howry, all his bequeathed baserunners scored, so it was a tough night for the Giants.

Hiroki Kuroda pitched a fine game in his second start since coming back from the DL, and arguably his best since a June 23 start against the White Sox, where he gave up two runs and was one out away from a complete game.

Yahoo boxDodgers recap

Rockies Make Giants Cry With A Thrilling Ninth Inning Comeback: Rockies 4, Giants 1

You could hear the moans from the San Francisco clubhouse as normally unshakable Heath Bell imploded for the first time this year in the ninth down in San Diego. The Rockies, who did their franchise's best work in September two years ago, look like they're repeating it now, going 11-1 in September since a five-game losing skid to the Dodgers and Giants to end August.

After failing to score at all in the prior innings, Todd Helton drew a leadoff walk to start the ninth. Bell retired Troy Tulowitzki on a line drive to right, but then failed to get either Brad Hawpe (single) or pinch-hitter Jason Giambi (walk). Bell got closer when he struck out Matt Murton looking, but Yorvit Torrealba came up huge for Colorado: after getting Torrealba to an 0-2 count, Bell missed twice, one of which was a close check swing — and then gave up a bases-clearing double that ended with the catcher reaching third on an ill-advised attempt to make the third out at home. Torrealba himself got knocked in on Paul Phillips' pinch-hit single, giving the Rocks a three-run lead they wouldn't relinquish, as provisional closer Franklin Morales nailed down the save.

The net result is that the Rockies stretch their Wild Card lead to 5.5 games, which also helps the Dodgers, even as it maintains the team's very hungry-looking two-game division deficit; with the Wild Card certainly coming from the West this year, the Rockies helped assure the Dodgers of a playoff berth.

Yahoo boxRockies recap

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Rockies winning last night didn't actually help the Dodgers in any way or form. Sure, it keeps the Giants marginally closer to the Rockies competing for the wild card, but that doesn't hurt the Dodgers. We don't care which of them wins the wild card. The only thing that hurts the Dodgers is if both Rockies and Giants end up doing better than the Dodgers - competing for the division, not the wild card. The Giants lost and stay further back of us no matter how the Rockies did, while the Rockies win keeps them close to winning the division, not good. If the Rockies had lost and maybe let the Marlins get closer to the wild card - so what? That only hurts the Dodgers if the Marlins also end up better than the Dodgers - and they're way back, 6.5 games. I don't see how the Rockies winning helps the Marlins overtake the Dodgers, whereas it does help the Rockies overtake the Dodgers - the only that even brings up the wild card issue for the Dodgers in the first place. As long as Rockies lose (while the Dodgers also lose, which they did, or don't gain much), the Dodgers win the division. No, the Rockies help the Dodgers by losing, not winning.
"As long as Rockies lose (while the Dodgers also lose, which they did, or don't gain much)"

Oops - I meant to say:

As long as Rockies lose (while the *Giants* also lose, which they did, or don't gain much), the Dodgers win the division.
I disagree; the Dodgers are after a postseason berth, not necessarily the division, something Jon Weisman pointed out earlier (no link as I'm a bit too lazy to find it at the moment). The Marlins have three teams to jump past to win the Wild Card. Beating the Giants, so long as they're in second place for the Wild Card, sets the floor for a postseason slot.
OK, but how does the Rockies win help? I understand that it makes it harder for the Marlins to get past the Rockies, but we only care about that if both the Marlins and the Rockies also get past the Dodgers. The Rockies win makes it more likely that the Rockies do get past the Dodgers (the closest of all these rivalries at the moment), while a Rockies loss would have made it less likely. If the Rockies don't get past the Dodgers, the Dodgers win the division and we don't care what the Marlins do. Whereas if the Rockies do get past the Dodgers, then we suddenly care very much about both the Marlins and the Giants. The Padres could win every game and it would make no difference to anyone in the race. The best outcome is for the Padres to beat the Rockies and keep them off our tail.

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