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Friday, May 7, 2010
The Closer: Utley caught stealing

By ESPN Stats & Info

In the Phillies' 7-2 victory over the Cardinals on Thursday, Chase Utley was caught stealing for the first time since September 2, 2008. Utley had put together a streak of 26 consecutive successful stolen base attempts, which was the longest active streak in the majors.

Utley’s “run” was put to an end when he broke a little too early from first, just as left-handed reliever Trever Miller started his delivery. Miller was able to throw over to first and a quick throw to second by Albert Pujols put Utley’s streak to bed. Here are a few other quick notes on Utley’s streak.

- When Utley was caught Thursday, he was running on the first pitch of the at-bat. During his streak, Utley didn’t record one steal on the first pitch. As covered in an earlier TMI post, Utley generally is a big proponent of running later in at-bats.

- The last time Utley was caught stealing it was actually while trying to steal home and it was with left-hander John Lannan on the mound. You have to go back to July 27, 2008 to find Utley’s last caught stealing of second base. The battery in that game was lefty Will Ohman and catcher Corky Miller. Utley would not record an attempt against either player during his streak.

- Even though Utley’s last three caught stealing were against left-handed pitchers, he did have success against them during his streak. 12 of his 26 steals were against southpaws, including two “revenge” steals against John Lannan.


Mr. Walk-off

Few hitters have been better in the clutch in recent years than Andre Ethier. The Dodger outfielder hit a walk-off grand slam Thursday to beat the Brewers. It was the 11th walk-off hit of Ethier's career, 6 of which have been home runs. Ethier is now hitting .371 with 30 RBI - both lead the NL. His 10 home runs are tied with Kelly Johnson for the NL lead. Since last season, Ethier has hit 5 walk-off home runs. That is the most in baseball.

Why Dan Haren won:
- Fastballs galore as 99 of 111 total pitches were the heater. 74.7 percent of those fastballs were strikes
(averaged 58.8 percent in his previous 6 starts)
- Some fastballs became strikes because Astros hitters chased 51 percent and missed 28 percent, which are
well above the MLB average of 20 and 14 percent
- Struck out 7 of 9 hitters with the fastball, which is Haren's most on that pitch since April 7, 2009
- 2 of 34 at-bats went to a 3-ball count. On the season, Haren has only thrown 35 pitches with a 3-ball count
- 15 ground ball outs is the second highest in his last 3 seasons (16 on Sep 15, 2009)
- Haren was efficient, averaging 3.3 pitches per plate appearance. 28 of 34 plate appearances ended in 4 pitches or less


Why Matt Cain won:
- Threw his fastball for a strike 70.8 percent of the time. In his last two starts, Cain's strike percentage on fastballs is 72.8 compared with 63.6 percent strikes in first 4 starts
- Complemented fastball with a good slider, throwing 13 of 23 pitches for strikes. Marlins hitters were 1-7 against the slider
- Targeted the inside of the plate on 34 pitches, getting 7 Marlins out. First start this season where no hits came on the inner part of the plate
- Threw a first pitch ball to 11 Florida hitters, but came back with a strike to 8 of them


Why Roy Halladay won:
- Made hitters chase his pitches. 48 percent of his pitches that were thrown outside of the strike zone were swung at compared to the MLB average of 31 percent
- He made people miss. 22 percent of his strikes were from swings and misses compared to the MLB average of 14 percent
- Threw strikes. 74 percent of his first pitches were strikes and 97 percent of one of his first two pitches were strikes compared to MLB averages of 58 and 85 percent respectively