Friday, September 26, 2014

Game of the Day (9/25/14)

Mets 7, Nationals 4. New York sent Dillon Gee to the mound, taking on Washington's Blake Treinen...

No, wait, you know what? I'm going to the manual override on this one. It's not an option I activate on anything like a regular basis (outside of no-hitters, at least), But Yankees 6, Orioles 5 (started by the young Kevin Gausman and the old Hiroki Kuroda) is a game that people are going to REMEMBER, and I sincerely doubt that the matchup between the Mets and Nationals, fine game though it was, will meet that standard.

Kuroda allowed homers to Nick Markakis and Alejandro de Aza before recording an out, then recovered to set down three in a row. New York countered quickly, as Brett Gardner singled and Derek Jeter doubled him home. Jeter then took third on a wild pitch and scored the tying run when Brian McCann reached on a Kelly Johnson error.

Both teams had players reach on errors in the second, with Johnson benefiting from a Jeter misplay and Gardner taking advantage of Jimmy Paredes's mistake, but the starters left both runners on. In the third, de Aza singled and was erased on a double play, while Chase Headley walked and was stranded. Neither team managed a baserunner in the fourth or fifth. Kuroda was spotless in the sixth as well, and Gausman was replaced by TJ McFarland, who matched Kuroda's effort.

Kuroda kept his run going in the seventh, setting the Orioles down in order yet again. In the bottom of the inning, Stephen Drew reached on a strikeout/passed ball, Ichiro walked, and Jose Pirela reached on a bunt hit to load the bases. Gardner hit into a force at home, bringing Jeter to the plate. Ryan Webb was called in from the bullpen and induced a grounder to short - and JJ Hardy committed a throwing error going for the force at second. Ichiro scored the go-ahead run, and Pirela came in as well; Gardner joined them one batter later when McCann hit a sacrifice fly against Brian Matusz, and the Yankees led 5-2.

Kuroda was perfect yet again in the eighth, with two strikeouts and a foulout to the catcher. Joe Saunders worked around a walk in the bottom of the inning. And with Kuroda having thrown 95 pitches and not having allowed a baserunner since the third, the Yankees pulled him for closer David Robertson.

It did not go well for Robertson. Markakis walked, Adam Jones homered with one out, and Steve Pearce went deep with two away, tying the game at 5. But the blown save proved to be for the greater good. Pirela led off the bottom of the ninth with a single against Evan Meek, Gardner bunted pinch runner Antoan Richardson to second, and Jeter then singled to score Richardson with the winning run.

The star of this game was Hiroki Kuroda, who really should have been given a shot at going the distance...

Oh, wait. Derek Jeter went 2 for 5 with a a double, a run, and 3 RBI. The double drove in New York's first run in the opening inning, and Jeter then came around on a wild pitch and an error to tie the game. In the seventh, with the game still even at 2 and the bases loaded, Jeter hit a soft grounder to short that induced a throwing error; the Yanks would have picked up the go-ahead run even if the force had been converted, though the error added a second run and subtracted an out. And in the ninth, with the game tied once more and the winning run in scoring position, Jeter (of course) singled to right to end it.

That's a WPA of +.610, and it came in the final home game of Jeter's storied career. And as if this wasn't unbelievable enough, that +.610 WPA is Jeter's career high. Which means that, at least by one measure, he is literally going out on top.

I am not the world's most huge Derek Jeter fan, but that is cool.

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