Friday, September 6, 2013
Playoff watch: Mo not better blues
By David Schoenfield
Some quick thoughts on the most important results and plays of the day, and a look forward to Friday.
Key stolen base and at-bat of the day: Mariano Rivera on in the ninth to close out the Yankees' miracle comeback -- they had scored six runs in the seventh inning to take an 8-7 lead over the hated Red Sox, sending the Bronx into a small frenzy of jubiliation. After Mike Napoli singled with two outs, Quintin Berry pinch-ran. He was 21-for-21 stealing bases last year with the Tigers. On the first pitch, Berry took off, beat the throw and went to third when it bounced into center. Stephen Drew then lined a soft single over Robinson Cano's head to tie the game. The Red Sox would score the winning run off Joba Chamberlain in the 10th. (Note: Imagine if teams kept that pinch-runner type or an extra pinch-hitter on the roster all season, instead of a seventh or eighth reliever.)
A devastating loss for the Yankees and Rivera's sixth blown save of the season, the most he's had since also blowing six in 2003. With all the Rivera tributes going on this year, it has to be pointed out that the Yankees have now lost four games they led heading into the ninth, which is one more than the major league average (3.2). All four were blown saves by Rivera (he was the losing pitcher twice).
Caught stealing of the day: Alfonso Soriano was on second base in the bottom of the ninth with one out when he tried to steal third -- hey, he'd been 9-for-9 on the season. Yale grad Craig Breslow was pitching for Boston and you got the idea he probably knew about Soriano's surprise weapon. He turned around and threw to second as Soriano broke for third and got caught in a rundown.
Pitching performance of the day: Former A's farmhand Brad Peacock came back to haunt his old team by pitching seven-plus strong innings as the Astros beat the A's 3-2. Peacock had a good curve on this night, throwing it a season-high 30 percent of the time and recording seven of his nine strikeouts with the pitch.
Most important win: Todd Frazier homered twice as the Reds beat the Cardinals to take three out of four in their series, moving 3 games behind the Pirates and 1.5 behind the Cardinals. Lance Lynn was ineffective again for the Cardinals, surrendering three home runs, and allowed four-plus runs for the fifth start in a row (7.57 ERA, .368 average, 25 runs in 27.1 innings). The Cardinals host the Pirates this weekend and the rotation needs to show up with some strong performances -- the Cards are 28th in the majors in rotation ERA since Aug. 15.
Most important loss: Yankees. On a night where the Rays would later lose 6-2 to the Angels (David Price gave up three runs in the second and third innings), the Yankees missed a big opportunity to pick up a game on Tampa, instead remaining 2.5 out of that second wild card.
Friday's best pitching matchup: Anibal Sanchez versus James Shields (Tigers at Royals, 8:10 ET). After Greg Holland blew a save in the ninth on Thursday when Raul Ibanez homered with two outs and two strikes, the Royals ended up winning in 13 innings on Mike Moustakas' walk-off homer. The Royals are barely hanging in there, 4.5 behind the Rays (but also behind the Yankees, Orioles and Indians). They're 7-6 against the Tigers and need to win two of three -- if not all three.
Player to watch: Evan Longoria, Rays. In his past 11 games, he's hitting .146 with one RBI and no extra-base hits. The Rays are in Seattle for three games, although they'll miss Felix Hernandez.