Results tagged ‘ Rochester Red Wings ’
My stepdaughter is back home after her sophomore year at college. Last Monday, I worked the Rochester – Norfolk game for BIS. When I got home after the game, she asked how the game was and I said that the Tides won, 2-1. She responded “I’m sorry the game wasn’t more exciting.”
She probably would have been even more convinced that the game wasn’t interesting if I had told her that the game lasted 2:50, and that all the runs were scored in the first inning. That’s right; it was 2-1 Tides after the first inning, and it ended 2-1 Tides.
But the game was exciting. Rochester got its leadoff batter on base in every one of Tides’ starter Chris Tillman’s six innings. That meant that Rochester was always threatening to tie the game — not in the “every batter could hit one out” sense, but in the tangible sense that something was going on. Rochester center fielder Jason Repko made an outstanding, lunging, diving catch of a line drive to rob Blake Davis of an extra-base hit. In the eighth inning, with two out, Rochester’s Danny Valencia walked; Jacque Jones singled him to second. Wilson Ramos singled sharply to left field; Tides left fielder Jeff Salazar gunned Valencia at the plate (Valencia was just touching third base when Salazar let his throw go.) In the ninth, Matt “Mother” Macri singled, took second on a wild pitch, and was sacrificed to third. Repko was hit by a pitch. Matt Tolbert hit a hard ground ball to the right of first baseman Brandon Snyder; Snyder threw to second base to force Repko. The throw was off-line, but somehow Blake Davis stretched out full-body, kept his toe on the bag, and got the force-out. Even more improbably, he lifted himself to one knee, threw back to first, and somehow got enough on the ball to retire the speedy Tolbert in time to complete the double-play. Game over!
From the sublime to the ridiculous — in the sixth inning, Valencia singled. On the first pitch to Jones, he broke for second — and managed to get over halfway to second base before Tillman reacted — by pitching to the plate. Needless to say, Valencia stole the base easily. Kudos to Tillman for concentration, but not so much for the teammates who must have seen Valencia break and apparently failed to alert Tillman.
I hate the concept of “Three True Outcomes.”
That’s one of the latest trends in baseball analysis. The idea is that only walks, strikeouts, and home runs are “true” measures of pitchers and hitters; all other results are “polluted” to some degree by the defense. The implication is that “hitting ‘em where they ain’t” and getting batters to hit lazy flies and routine grounders aren’t skills; it’s just a matter of luck. Tell that to Tony Gwynn.
That’s not to say that sometimes pitching lines can’t be deceiving. Take Troy Patton’s start for the Tides against Rochester May 22. On the surface, it looks pretty terrible:
4.1 13 8 8 0 0 0 Game Score: 5
(That’s innings pitched, hits allowed, runs allowed, earned runs allowed, walks, strikeouts, and home runs. I had been assuming that everyone reading this would know that, but maybe not.)
Looking at that line in a box score, you might think that Patton was being hammered; that he was throwing lollipops up there and the Red Wings were knocking his pitches all over Harbor Park. But those of us at the game know differently:
· In the first inning, Matt Tolbert dropped a bunt down the third base line that stubbornly refused to go foul.
· In the third inning, Toby Gardenhire lined a double that landed fair, within a foot of the left-field foul line. He came around to score.
· Later in the third inning, Brian Dinkelman lined a double down the right-field line that also landed just fair. He, too, came around to score.
· Gardenhire led off the fifth inning with a single over the third-base bag; he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.
· The next batter, Jason Repko, grounded a double just fair over the third-base bag. He came around to score on …
· A double by Matt Tolbert that stayed just fair down the left-field line. Tolbert scored on …
· A single by Dinkelman; a soft line drive that fell just between the shortstop and left fielder. Dinkelman later scored.
· The last hit Patton gave up, before being relieved, was another flare to left field, this one by Dustin Martin.
That’s eight of the hits off Patton that, with just a little bit of luck, (just a little bit of luck) could have gone foul or been caught. I’m sure the batters’ timing isn’t so perfect that they couldn’t have made contact a fraction of a fraction earlier, and driven the balls down the lines foul. And I’m sure that the their eyesight isn’t so perfect that they couldn’t have hit the ball a millimeter higher or lower, and the flares could have been easily caught.
Fans want to simplify baseball. Casual or beginning fans will look at Troy Patton’s line and think he’s terrible. The number-crunching fans will look at his line and see no walks, no strikeouts, and no home runs, and smugly conclude that he was a victim of bad defense or bad luck. As always, the truth is somewhere in between; although in this case the stats geeks would be closer to the truth.