Stats & Info: Steve Delabar

Wednesday's wild card story: Clutch hits

September, 19, 2013
There were three highly entertaining games on Wednesday night that played a significant role in the AL Wild Card race. While the Kansas City Royals- Cleveland Indians game was decided early, the contests between the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays, and Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers would come down to pivotal late-game matchups.

Orioles vs. Red Sox
Key at-bat: Chris Davis vs. Franklin Morales

Situation: Tied in the 12th inning; bases loaded, two outs.
Chris Davis

Davis entered 2-for-his-last-15 against left-handed pitching and he was facing a pitcher who had retired the last 11 left-handed hitters he faced.

But Davis got a hanging curveball on a 1-2 count and was able to ground it just past Dustin Pedroia for a two-run single. Davis has now gotten three straight hits against Morales.

He was fortunate to sneak that one just by the diving Pedroia. The Red Sox second baseman leads major leaguers at that position with 17 Defensive Runs Saved.

Yankees vs. Blue Jays
Key at-bat: Vernon Wells vs. Steve Delabar

Situation: Yankees down a run in the eighth inning, second and third, one out.
Vernon Wells
The Blue Jays probably felt pretty good with reliable All-Star Steve Delabar trying to protect a three run lead in the eighth inning, but Delabar has been rather shaky lately. Right-handed hitters, who were 17-for-84 with 30 strikeouts against him prior to the All-Star Break, entered this at-bat 11 for their last 30 against him.

Wells has had trouble with right-handed pitching all season, hitting .210 against righties entering Thursday. But down in the count 0-1, he was able to drill a line-drive double to plate the tying and go-ahead runs.

It gave Wells’ his first multi-hit game since August 13 against the Angels.

Rays vs. Rangers
Key at-bat: David DeJesus vs. Joe Nathan

Situation: Rangers up a run in the 11th inning, man on second, two outs.
David DeJesus

Nathan was a strike away from putting the Rangers a game ahead of the Rays in the AL Wild Card chase, but he couldn’t sneak strike three by DeJesus.

Nathan may end up kicking himself for his pitch choice—-a curveball that hung in the upper-half of the strike zone, one DeJesus was able to ground past Nathan for the game-tying hit.

The curve is Nathan’s third option in two-strike situations (like this one). He typically throws it about 14 percent of the time (his other pitches are split between fastballs and sliders).

The Rays would win in the 12th with Nathan out of the game, on a game-winning hit by Desmond Jennings.

The other key to the comeback was Freddy Guzman’s stolen base, which put him in scoring position. Guzman was making his first appearance in a game since appearing for the Yankees in the 2009 ALCS.

Guzman is on the Rays’ roster for his speed. He had 73 steals in 82 attempts in 99 games in the Mexican League prior to joining the Rays.

Pitching riches overwhelm in All-Star Game

July, 17, 2013
Robert Deutsch/USA Today SportsIn Mariano Rivera's final All-Star Game, pitching ruled the day.

Pitching, pitching and more pitching was the dominant statistical storyline in the 2013 MLB All-Star Game.

This year’s contest was, like last year’s, a shutout, marking the first time in All-Star Game history that consecutive games were shutouts.

The three runs scored were the fewest combined by the two teams in an All-Star Game since 1990, when the AL won 2-0. The teams combined to hit .197 with the NL managing only three hits, tied for the second-fewest in an All-Star Game.

With the win, the AL will hold home-field advantage in this year’s World Series.

Let’s run through some of the highlights.

Mariano Rivera the MVP
Mariano Rivera won MVP honors, which wasn’t so much for this game (in which he pitched a scoreless eighth inning), but was more of a lifetime achievement award to commemorate his great career.

Rivera pitched nine innings in his All-Star career and allowed one unearned run. The only pitcher to pitch more All-Star innings without allowing an earned run was Mel Harder, who pitched for the Cleveland Indians in the 1930s and 1940s.

Rivera got a “hold” in this game and not a save. His four All-Star Game saves are the most all-time.

Rivera is the first pitcher who was primarily used by his major league team as a relief pitcher to earn All-Star Game MVP honors. He’s the second to pitch in relief in the game and earn MVP, joining Jon Matlack, a starter on the 1975 New York Mets who shared MVP honors in that year’s All-Star Game.

Rivera is the first pitcher to win All-Star Game MVP since Pedro Martinez in 1999 and the second Yankees player to win it, joining Derek Jeter in 2000.

Elias notes that he’ll join Cal Ripken Jr. as the only players to win All-Star Game MVP in their final seasons.

The young guys were very impressive
NL starter Matt Harvey, the first New York Mets pitcher to start the All-Star Game since Dwight Gooden in 1988, looked sharp after letting the first two hitters reach base. He was the first Mets pitcher to throw two scoreless innings in an All-Star Game since Gooden in 1984.

Harvey continued a run of dominance by Mets pitchers making their All-Star debuts. The 11 pitchers have combined for 12 2/3 scoreless innings, with 20 strikeouts.

White Sox pitcher Chris Sale earned the win. He was the first AL pitcher to throw two perfect innings in an All-Star Game since Roger Clemens in 2001. He’s the first White Sox pitcher to win an All-Star Game since Mark Buehrle in 2005.

Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez struck out a pair of hitters in the sixth inning to become the third pitcher age 20 or younger with multiple strikeouts in an All-Star Game, joining Gooden (1984) and Hall of Famer Bob Feller.

The combined line for those three -- five innings pitched, one hit allowed, seven strikeouts. The trio has 93 career starts between them.

The AL benefited from a couple of nifty examples of teamwork en route to the win.

Jhonny Peralta, Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera each had at least one hit in the game. It’s the first time that the Detroit Tigers have had three different players get a hit in an All-Star Game.

On the pitching side, Toronto Blue Jays relievers Brett Cecil and Steve Delabar combined for the last two outs of the seventh inning by striking out left-handed hitting Domonic Brown and right-handed hitting Buster Posey.
Cecil has held lefties to a .154 on-base percentage this season, the lowest for anyone in the majors this season.

Delabar has struck out 150 batters in 108 innings over the last two seasons. His rate of 12.5 strikeouts per 9 innings is eighth-best in the majors in that span.

Did You Know?
The NL finished with only four baserunners, the fewest in a game for either team since 1995 and the fewest for the NL in an All-Star Game since 1968.

The AL grounded into an All-Star Game-record four double plays.

Joe Nathan recorded the save. The only other Rangers pitcher to record a save in an All-Star Game was John Wetteland in 1999. You might remember Wetteland as the pitcher who preceded Rivera as Yankees closer.