Star of the Game – Jim Henderson (.176 WPA)
The title of the post comes from the 1988 World Series call by Jack Buck as Kirk Gibson comes off the bench in a pinch hitting role late in the game hobbled and barely able to walk and hits a game winning home run to give the Dodgers game one of the series. What Buck witnessed that night was a historic baseball moment. It was a feel good moment, the type that gets put in the archives to be used on a host of greatest baseball moment reels. What we saw on Friday night, however, is just a little different. We’ll get to that in a little bit, but first, let’s talk about the game as a whole.
I said in yesterday’s series preview that I felt we’d win this series, but that both wins would come in games two and three. After the first inning, it was looking pretty clear that at least the loss in game one was all but locked up. I tweeted out “Not even done with the 1st inning and I already want to turn the
#Cubs game off.” That was how I felt, but for some reason I decided to stay. Something told me that maybe the Cubs could chip away, and that’s what they did.
Jeff Samardzija’s outing is a hard. It was essentially a middle of the road game in the box score, but I came away feeling better about it than the 50 game score shows. When you look back at the first inning, which is where most of the damage was done by the Brewers, what you find is that a part from the Ryan Braun home run on a fat pitch up in the zone, Samardzija really didn’t get beat by hard hit balls. Anthony Rizzo made an error on the first play he saw to put Norichika Aoki, on base and Jean Segura, who if you didn’t know his name before the game you know it know, came up right after with a bloop hit that was possibly catchable on the run by Darwin Barney. Both hits were weak and potential outs. Instead of two outs and no one on base. Samardzija had to fave Braun with no outs and runners on first and third. That’s a big difference in run expectancy between the two scenarios. If the Cubs get those two outs, or even if they get one of the two, the outcome of this game may have been different. At the end of the day, the runs will go against Samardzija, but if you missed the game, his inning wasn’t as bad as it looks. From that inning on, he was really good, only allowing one run in the last six innings.
Offensively, the encouraging thing of the night was the fact that, down four runs early, the team battled back, and did it almost immediately. Home runs by Luis Valbuena and David DeJesus in the early innings brought the score to 4-3 and it felt like the momentum has changed to the Cubs. The graph above doesn’t reflect a change enough to give the Cubs the probability to win, but you can see things starting in the right direction shortly after the Braun home run. Rizzo would add a bomb shot to right field late in the game, but in the end, home runs were the only things this offense could muster, which was just a little frustrating when you factor in that in seven of the nine innings, the Cubs saw their leadoff man reach base. To come away with runs only on the home run in that situation is unacceptable.
This year it also seems like we can’t have a recap without some note on the bullpen, and Friday’s game was no exception. The game marked the return of Kevin Gregg to the pen. To be honest, I had forgotten how little faith I had in him to get someone out. When I saw we had signed him, I was surprised not because I didn’t trust him, but because I thought he was too old. One look at him on the mound and it all came back. Flashbacks of blown saves flashed before my eyes. Gregg would walk a batter and give up a hit before being removed by Svuem in favor of Shawn Camp, who would come in and get three outs on five pitches without having a ball be put in play. Take a minute and re-read that sentence and soak it in. Now I’ll explain the title of the post.
For those who didn’t see the play, let me set the scenario up for you. With no outs, Segura would reach first on an infield single and promptly steal second. Braun walked and we got a pitching change. Here is where the craziness happens. Jesse Rodgers describes the scene perfectly “As Camp got ready to pitch to Rickie Weeks, Segura got caught off second base. Camp threw to third baseman Valbuena who ran Segura back to second where Braun had advanced during the run down. Both players were standing on second base.
Valbuena tagged them both and Segura assumed he was out and started running towards the Brewers dugout which is behind first base. But second base umpire Phil Cuzzi correctly called the “following runner” out in Braun. As the “preceding runner” Segura was not out unless tagged off the bag. Cubs second baseman Barney grabbed the ball and started chasing Segura who quickly realized he was still “alive” and just went back to first base.”
Weeks would then strike out and to end the inning, in perhaps the most fitting scenario, Segura would then attempt to steal second for the second time in the inning and would be thrown out by Wellington Castillo, who has a cannon for an arm. It was an odd play, but apparantly an even more odd play happened early 20th century.
Here is what I found www.11points.com
This one’s going to take some ‘splainin. Until 1920, Major League Baseball had a rule that made it legal to steal bases in reverse order. If you were on second and wanted to go back to first, you could steal it. Which can, in some convoluted ways, make strategic sense.
During the September 4th, 1908, game between the Tigers and Cleveland Indians, Schaefer was on first and a teammate was on third. The Tigers wanted to do a double steal — Schaefer would break for second, and, when the Indians tried to throw him out, his teammate would steal home. But when Schaefer broke for second, the Indians’ catcher didn’t make the throw, so Schaefer stole the base without the run scoring.
That wasn’t the plan so, on the next pitch, he broke back for first… and successfully stole it without a throw. Then, on the next pitch, he broke for second AGAIN, to try to make the double steal work… but again, the Indians didn’t throw.
That makes him the only player in MLB history to steal the same base twice in one inning. (And one of only two players to ever steal first base from second.)
- Aoki, the Brewers leadoff man, is quickly turning into one of my least liked players. Every time I look up, that guy is reaching base in some way. Tonight was no exception.
- Marco Estrada has a really odd motion when pitching out of the windup. It’s like he’s doing squats and looks rather uncomfortable. Squats are my least favorite exercise at the gym and this guy is willingly doing them before each pitch.
- Sveum’s ejection was horse &%?$&. It was way to quick and the home plate umpire had no business taking his mask off to confront Samardzija on a borderline pitch. Let the guy show some frustration before you, as an umpire, make yourself the story.
- The Cubs made a roster move before the game, claiming Julio Borbon off waivers from the Rangers. Borbon made it to the game and promptly was caught stealing to end the game after being inserted as a pinch runner in the 9th. The curious part about the move is how unbalanced it makes the roster. Alberto Gonzalez was designated for assignment before the game to make room for Borbon on the 40 man roster. The move means the Cubs are now carrying six outfielders, none of which play the infield, and just one backup infielder. Its irresponsible in my opinion and needs to be corrected. Dave Sappelt must be optioned to AAA to give him a chance to fix his case of suck, and be replaced by Logan Watkins, unless the Cubs feel like Ian Stewart is very close to a return and will wait it out till then.
- I made a quick appearance before the game on ESPN radio. You can listen to it here. As always, I’d love feedback.
Grading the Umpire
I started this a few games ago on games I recap. We take a look at the correct call rate of the home plate umpire on pitches that were not swung at by the batter. It’s a look at the calls the umpire actually has to judge, to see how effective he was at doing his job and what kind of zone he established. Tonight’s subject is Chris Guccioni
A CC% of 86.7% since 2009 places Guccione at the bottom of the upper half of umpires and just a hair above league average.
Overall, he had a really night night, with an 89% correct call rate on pitches that were takes. Looking at the two graphs below, we see two things. 1) The low and outside pitch to lefties was a tough one for the hitter, with Guccione calling some of those strikes.
2) His correct call rate was OK, but he had a semi-hard time with the corners