Sunday, May 4, 2014

Game of the Day (5/3/14)

Yesterday featured one of the best 9-inning games of the year, an 11-10 throwdown in which the home team rallied from a 6-0 deficit with an 8-run fifth inning, blew the resultant lead in the eighth and let the road team go ahead in the ninth, then came back to win with two runs in the bottom of the inning.

It also had an extra-inning game. So naturally, WPL selects Dodgers 9, Marlins 7 (11) as the superior outing.

Miami's Jacob Turner allowed a single and steal to LA's Dee Gordon to open the game, but Gordon would be doubled off of second on a Hanley Ramirez line drive to left. Paul Maholm gave up a single to Giancarlo Stanton and walked Casey McGehee before Marcel Ozuna struck out to strand both runners. The Dodgers picked up a run in the second on a Matt Kemp double and a Juan Uribe single, which was equaled when Jeff Baker homered in the bottom of the inning.

The teams traded runs again in the third, the Dodgers scoring when Gordon singled, advanced on a groundout and came around on a hit by Ramirez, and the Marlins countering on an Adeiny Hechevarria single and a double by McGehee. LA seized a much larger lead in the fourth when Uribe and Miguel Olivo singled, Maholm bunted them to second and third, Gordon singled in one run, and Yasiel Puig launched a 3-run homer for a 6-2 lead.

Maholm allowed a walk and two singles in the fourth, but because Garret Jones was removed on a double play before Jeff Mathis and pinch hitter Donovan Solano's hits, no scoring resulted. Kevin Slowey took the mound in the fifth and allowed a Kemp single but then saw him caught stealing as the back end of an inning-ending K/CS double play. Stanton doubled and made it to third before being stranded in the bottom of the inning. LA padded its lead by a run in the sixth when Olivo singled, moved to second on Maholm's bunt, and scored on Gordon's single, but the Marlins answered when Mathis homered in the bottom of the inning.

Carter Capps worked a perfect seventh for Miami, and his teammates rallied once Maholm was pulled; Brian Wilson hit Hechevarria with a pitch and walked Stanton, then served up a three-run homer to Ozuna to bring Miami within a run. Capps was spotless again in the eighth, and the Marlins mounted a substantial rally, as Chris Withrow walked Mathis, allowed a double to Reed Johnson, and walked Hechevarria to load the bases for Stanton. The team's best player then proceeded to strike out on three pitches to end the inning.

Brad Hand allowed a Puig single in the top of the ninth, but Puig was quickly caught stealing to keep the game close. Chris Perez entered for the Dodgers in the bottom of the inning and immediately allowed a McGehee double. Ozuna flied out, but Jones walked and Baker singled to load the bases, and pinch hitter Jarrod Saltalamacchia worked a full count walk to force in the tying run. The winning run was now 90 feet away with one out, but Christian Yelich struck out and Derek Dietrich flied out to send the game to extras.

Steve Cishek worked around a Kemp single in the top of the tenth; Brandon League allowed Hechevarria to reach second on a single-and-error, then intentionally walked Stanton to set up a McGehee double play, which is exactly what he got. Carlos Marmol relieved Cishek in the eleventh, and his appearance went about as well as you'd expect; he walked Uribe, then served a go-ahead two-run homer to Carl Crawford. Gordon would then single and steal second before Marmol finished striking out the side, which served as cold comfort indeed. League finished off the game with a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning.

It is an interesting feature of extra-inning games that they tend to be decided by players who were not participants when the game began. Yes, Jacob Turner allowed six runs in four innings, and Dee Gordon had the first five-hit game of his career. But the game's two largest hitting WPA scores came from Saltalamacchia (game-tying bases-loaded walk) and Crawford (go-ahead eleventh-inning homer), and neither of them started the game (and of course, neither did the pitchers who faced them in those at bats). So you could argue that the Dodgers won this game due to their superior depth in having an extra starting-quality outfielder to pull from the bench for extra innings.

Of course, you could also argue that they came out on top because they knocked Miami's starter out after four, and even though the Marlins rallied to tie after that, the Dodgers gave themselves plenty of time to find a weak link in the bullpen. Either way, they took home the victory in a top-notch game.

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