Monday, July 14, 2014

Game of the Day (7/13/14)

Indians 3, White Sox 2. Chicago's John Danks, who seems to be having a nice rebound from a couple of lost years, faced Cleveland's Trevor Bauer, who finally appears to be establishing himself in the majors.

Bauer went through a mild adventure in the first, allowing a single to Jose Abreu, then throwing a wild pitch and walking Adam Dunn before ending the inning. Danks was perfect in the bottom of the inning, and Bauer ramped up the drama further in the second, allowing three hits (to Conor Gillaspie, Tyler Flowers, and Leurys Garcia) and a steal (to Garcia), but still keeping the scoreboard barren thanks to a mid-inning double play. Cleveland scored the game's first run in the bottom of the inning on a Ryan Raburn walk and singles by Nick Swisher and Yan Gomes; Lonnie Chisenhall then reached on an error to load the bases, but Mike Aviles and Jason Kipnis struck out to end the inning.

Bauer issued a two-out walk to Dunn in the third, but left him on. Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana both singled in the bottom of the inning, but the Indians ended the frame with the runners stranded at second and third. A two-out Flowers double in the top of the fourth also went to waste, as did a Chisenhall walk and an Aviles double in the bottom of the inning.

The fifth inning was the calmest of the game to this point, as an Abreu single made him the only baserunner to reach for either team. The scoring threats resumed in earnest in the sixth, as Dayan Viciedo led off the top of the inning with a single and Gillaspie walked, but Bauer recovered to strand them both. Cleveland then loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning on two-out singles by Chisenhall and Aviles and a Kipnis HBP, but Cabrera grounded out to squander yet another opportunity.

Bauer was pulled after allowing a two-out Abreu single in the seventh, and Marc Rzepczynski retired Dunn to end the inning; Danks set the Indians down in order in the home half. Bryan Shaw relieved in the top of the eighth, and the White Sox finally got on the board, starting with a one-out Gillaspie single and a wild pitch. Gordon Beckham singled Gillaspie home to the the game, moved to second on a groundout, and tallied the go-ahead run on Garcia's single. Garcia stole second, Alejandro de Aza was intentionally walked, and Carlos Sanchez grounded out to end the inning.

Now trailing for the first time in the game, the Indians responded as promptly as possible: Swisher drew a leadoff walk from Javy Guerra, and Gomes homered to put Cleveland back in front, 3-2. Guerra retired the next three hitters, but Cody Allen set the Sox down in order in the ninth to end the game.

This was certainly a fine day for Yan Gomes, who drove in all three Cleveland runs and whose +.562 WPA is the second highest of his career so far. More than that, though, it was a fine exhibition of baseball in general; the White Sox hitters started every half-inning either tied or down by a run, and they put someone on base in every inning but the ninth, and in scoring position in five of the first eight innings. That sort of constant threatening (plus the double lead change in the eighth) is how a relative pitcher's duel can still score well in the offense-friendly WPL system.

This game (along with the other fourteen played yesterday) takes us into the All-Star break. And playing the day's best game puts the Indians neck-and-neck with the Marlins for the top spot in the 2014 excitement chase - they have played the same number of games this year, and are within .02 points of total WPL over 94 games, which is as close to zero difference as it is reasonably possible to get.

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