Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Game of the Day (6/2/14)

Pirates 10, Padres 3. How the heck does a 10-3 game become the best of the day? Let's find out!

Charlie Morton started for the Pirates against San Diego's Tim Stauffer. Both of them are guys you would describe as journeymen, except that they haven't really journeyed - Stauffer's entire career has been spent in San Diego, while Morton has been in Pittsburgh for the last six years.

Stauffer was perfect in the first, and worked around a Pedro Alvarez single in the second. Meanwhile, Morton committed an error and walked a batter in the first, but then retired the next three hitters and followed up with a spotless second.

Jordy Mercer led off the top of the third with a homer. Stauffer struck out Morton, but then allowed a single to Josh Harrison and balked him to second, gave up a single to Neil Walker and walked Andrew McCutchen to load the bases. Ike Davis added a sac fly for a 2-0 lead, and Russell Martin reloaded the bases with a walk. And that was it for Stauffer, who was pulled for Alex Torres; Torres struck out Alvarez to end the inning.

Morton walked Everth Cabrera and plunked Carlos Quentin before escaping in the third, and the Pirates increased their lead when Starling Marte was hit by a pitch, stole second, and scored on Mercer's single. Morton bunted Mercer to second, Harrison singled and Walker was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but McCutchen hit into a 5-3 double play to end the inning. Morton worked around a hit batter in the fourth, while Alvarez's two-out single in the fifth chased Torres in favor of Kevin Quackenbush, who ended the inning without further incident.

San Diego got on the board in the top of the fifth on an Alexi Amarista single, a Cabrera double, and a Seth Smith single, closing within 3-2. Chase Headley was hit by a pitch one out later, and a groundout moved the runners to second and third; Jedd Gyorko then walked to load the bases, but pinch hitter Tommy Medica struck out to end the inning.

And that was just about all of the drama. The Pirates picked up a run against Dale Thayer in the top of the sixth on singles by Mercer, Travis Snider, and Walker, and added three more in the seventh (Alvarez walked, Mercer, Jose Tabata, and Harrison singled, scoring one and loading the bases, and Walker doubled in a pair). Two walks, a flyout and a groundout gave San Diego a run in the bottom of the seventh, but Pittsburgh replied with a two-run Gaby Sanchez double in the eighth, with McCutchen then doubling Sanchez home. Jeanmar Gomez worked the last two innings of the game with minimal difficulty to finish off the Padres.

So how did a 10-3 game take the top spot for the day? First, it was a pretty solid 10-3 game, all things considered; the Padres never led, but they were close for a while, and had the go-ahead runs on base in the fifth. Throw in a career day from Jordy Mercer (four hits, tying his career high, and four runs, doubling his previous high water mark), and it was at least a game worth giving some attention.

Second, it was the only game played yesterday that exceeded the median WPL for the year (and it barely did that, beating 50.2% of 2014 contests so far). When there are only eight games played and six are decided by three or more runs, sometimes the 10-3 game wins.

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