Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Game of the Day (5/20/14)

Rockies 5, Giants 4. San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner opposed Colorado's Franklin Morales. Both were well-regarded as young pitchers, but only Bumgarner has really lived up to his initial promise; Morales is starting regularly for the first time since 2008.

Both starters were excellent in the early going. The game's first baserunner was Brandon Hicks, who singled with two outs in the second and was left on. Carlos Gonzalez led off the bottom of the second with a single, but Bumgarner prompted a double play ball from Nolan Arenado. Morales was perfect in the third, while Bumgarner allowed hits to DJ LeMahieu and Morales in the bottom of the inning, but stranded them at second and third.

Morales worked around a leadoff walk in the fourth, and the Rockies pushed across the game's first run in the bottom of the inning when Troy Tulowitzki and Willin Rosario doubled. San Francisco responded promptly in the top of the fifth, as Brandon Crawford singled, Tyler Colvin doubled, and Gregor Blanco tripled both runners home. Hunter Pence singled Blanco in to make it a 3-1 lead.

Colorado put two runners on in the fifth as Brandon Barnes singled and Tulowitzki was hit by a pitch, but Gonzalez struck out to leave both men on. Morales threw a 1-2-3 sixth, and the Rockies tied it in the bottom of the inning when Arenado singled and Rosario homered. Drew Stubbs then walked and LeMahieu bunted and reached on a fielder's poor choice, putting the go-ahead run in scoring position, but Morales struck out on a foul bunt and Barnes lined into a double play.

The bullpens took over the game in the seventh; Rex Brothers plunked Bumgarner with two out in the top of the inning and left him at first, and Jean Machi replaced Bumgarner in the bottom of the frame and worked around a Michael Cuddyer walk and an Arenado single. Adam Ottavino permitted a Pence leadoff single in the eighth, but Pablo Sandoval hit into a double play; Santiago Casilla responded by retiring the Rockies in order.

LaTroy Hawkins took the mound in the top of the ninth and retired the first batter he faced. Hicks singled, but Crawford popped up for the second out. Colvin worked a 2-2 count, then struck a go-ahead RBI double to left. Colvin moved to third on a wild pitch before Joaquin Arias grounded out to end the inning.

Sergio Romo entered for the save situation in the bottom of the ninth. His appearance started with a walk to pinch hitter Justin Morneau, but Cuddyer then flied out and Tulowitzki hit into a force, putting the Giants one out from victory. Gonzalez followed with a single, moving the tying run to third, and Arenado then doubled to bring in both the tying and winning runs.

Both teams got a two-out run-scoring double in the ninth; Tyler Colvin's two-bagger helped him to post a WPA of +.466, the second-highest of his career, while Nolan Arenado's led to the establishment of a new career high of +.768. Arenado's extra-base hit happened to come with an extra man on, which both assisted him in posting that prodigious WPA figure and gave the Rockies the game.

Thanks to the double lead change in the ninth, this game scores a healthy WPL of 5.27, the third-highest for a nine-inning contest this year. (The ninth inning alone had a WPL of roughly 1.89, which is a higher total than more than a quarter of the games played in 2014 to date.) It also pushes the Giants past the White Sox and into possession of second place in the race to be the most exciting team of the year.

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