Sunday, July 6, 2014

Game of the Day (7/5/14)

Mariners 3, White Sox 2 (14). Jose Quintana has developed into a highly capable starter for the White Sox... but not quite so capable that you'd necessarily like his chances against the magnificent Felix Hernandez. But then, there aren't many pitchers with that level of capability.

Hernandez got off to a characteristically marvelous start; he allowed an Adam Eaton single to lead off the bottom of the first, but then retired the next nine White Sox to make it through the third unscathed. Quintana was even better, setting down nine straight without bothering to allow a single. Seattle was without baserunners until Robinson Cano's hit in the top of the fourth, whereas Chicago's next runner reached when Adam Dunn drew a two-out fourth-inning walk.

The Mariners mounted an actual threat in the fifth on two-out singles by Logan Morrison and Michael Saunders, but Brad Miller struck out with runners at the corners to end the inning. That muted rally looked like an offensive extravaganza compared to the next five half-innings, which were utterly bereft of baserunners.

A Morrison single and a Saunders walk to open the top of the eighth finally ended the drought; two outs later, the runners were at the corners, and Quintana was pulled for Jake Petricka, who coaxed a groundout from Endy Chavez to end the inning. The White Sox scored the game's first runs in the bottom of the inning on a Conor Gillaspie triple, a Dayan Viciedo double, a fielder's choice, and a sacrifice fly, and Hernandez was removed at the end of the inning facing a thoroughly undeserved 2-0 deficit (which is not exactly a fate to which he is unaccustomed).

Eric Surkamp walked Cano to open the top of the ninth and was pulled for Zach Putnam, who allowed a Corey Hart single. Kyle Seager's flyout moved Cano to third, and Mike Zunino's scored him, but the tying run remained at first with two away. Fortunately for the Mariners, the Morrison-Saunders section of the order was coming up again; both men singled to bring pinch runner Dustin Ackley around to the plate and even the score at 2. Yoervis Medina worked through some excitement in the home ninth (not really of his own making, as the mini-rally began with a Miller error), but kept the Sox from scoring and sent the game to extras.

Javy Guerra walked James Jones to open the tenth, and Cano singled him to third and stole second one out later. But an Ackley strikeout, a Seager intentional walk, and a Zunino popup combined to leave the bases loaded. Charlie Furbush and Danny Farquhar combined on a spotless bottom of the tenth, and Guerra and Farquhar allowed only a single between them in the eleventh. Ronald Belisario and Tom Wilhelmsen improved on even that performance, permitting a joint total of one hit while keeping each other's teams scoreless in both the twelfth and thirteenth.

Belisario remained on the mound for the top of the fourteenth. After Morrison struck out, Saunders singled and stole second, then came home with the go-ahead run on a Miller double. Fernando Rodney proceeded to retire the Sox in order in the bottom of the inning to end the game.

Most of the responsibility for the Mariner victory (on the hitting side, at least) comes from Michael Saunders, who had 3 hits and a walk, drove in the tying run in the ninth and scored the winner in the 14th. The resultant WPA of +.508 is the second-highest of his career to this point. But as you might expect in a 3-2, 14-inning game, the hitting was not the interesting side of things.

The pitching in this game can be broken down into four basic areas: Felix Hernandez, Mariner bullpen, Jose Quintana, and White Sox bullpen. Here are the component numbers for each:

Hernandez - 8 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 8 K
Mariner pen - 6 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 7 K
Quintana - 7.2 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 10 K
Sox pen - 6.1 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 3 K

Can you guess which part of which pitching staff ultimately carried the responsibility for the loss?

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