Stat of the Day – Fastball velocity against

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OK, so this is pretty obscure and the results are so bunched together that one can’t take a whole lot from the data, but I wanted to check something and I though it was pretty interesting to see this work out mostly the way one would expect.
Here is a list of which hitters have faced the hardest fastballs this year (taken from Fangraphs):
1. Alex Rodriguez – 92.0
2. Billy Butler – 91.9
2. Ryan Braun – 91.9
4. Albert Pujols – 91.8
4. Jack Cust – 91.8
4. David Ortiz – 91.8
7. Dustin Pedroia – 91.7
7. Jhonny Peralta – 91.7
7. Ryan Sweeney – 91.7
7. Jermaine Dye – 91.7
7. Jason Bay – 91.7
7. Mark DeRosa – 91.7
7. Torii Hunter – 91.7
7. Jason Kubel – 91.7
7. Kevin Youkilis – 91.7
7. Matt Holliday – 91.7
7. Mark Teahen – 91.7
That’s the top 17. The first three and 12 of the 17 are right-handed hitters. Which makes sense, since they’ll see more right-handed pitchers and right-handers throw harder than lefties. I was actually somewhat surprised to see five left-handed hitters on the list: Ortiz, Cust, Sweeney, Kubel and Teahen.
I’m guessing part of the reason for the presence of the lefties is the lack of soft-tossing specialists in the league right now. Mike Stanton, Mike Myers, Rheal Cormier and others are all out of the league. There just aren’t many current specialists throwing in the low-80s. Brian Shouse and Daniel Ray Herrera are the only two, and even the ones who work in the upper-80s tend to throw at least as many breaking balls as fastballs when they’re facing quality left-handed hitters.
Besides the handedness, it’s worth noting the quality of the hitters above. A-Rod and Pujols are two of the game’s best, Braun isn’t far behind and Ortiz still has that reputation. Butler is the one Royal who scares pitchers, and given his career splits, he shouldn’t ever be facing left-handed relievers.
Cust is the real surprise. He’s at 91.8 this year after coming in at 90.9 and 90.8 the last two seasons. He’s known as an excellent fastball hitter, so he sees fewer fastballs than most of the hitters here (the only two of the 17 to see fewer are Pujols and Kubel). It’s probably just a fluke that he’s so high on the list. The A’s in general face harder throwers than most. Here’s the top and bottom six on a team basis (again, shamelessly taken from Fangraphs):
1. Red Sox – 91.6
1. Indians – 91.6
3. Blue Jays – 91.5
3. Athletics – 91.5
3. White Sox – 91.5
3. Royals – 91.5
25. Phillies – 90.9
26. Rangers – 90.9
27. Mets – 90.8
28. Pirates – 90.7
29. Cubs – 90.4
30. Marlins – 90.3

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Brewers 9, Reds 4: Milwaukee beats the Reds for the sixth time in seven tries this year. Orlando Arcia homered and drove in three. Jett Bandy had three hits and two RBI. The Brewers had 14 hits in all. Some bad news: Eric Thames left the game with a tight hamstring. He says he’ll be OK, however. And get manager Craig Counsell’s explanation of the injury is quite the humble brag:

“It just kind of tightened up over the day,” Counsell said. “It is really the on-base stuff. He’s just been on-base a whole bunch, running the bases, scoring from first, so just a whole bunch of baserunning.”

“He’s just been so awesome that all of his awesome beat-the-Reds muscles are tired. Maybe he’ll be better when he’s done beating the hell out of the Reds.

White Sox 5, Royals 2: It was tied at two until Avisail Garcia’s two-run home run in the sixth. Jose Quintana struck out ten in only six innings of work, allowing only an earned run. Rick Renteria said he was going to let Quintana pitch the seventh if the game was tied, but took him out once Garcia hit that bomb. At only 99 pitches I’m sure a veteran like Quintana would’ve been OK for another inning, but I always do scratch my head when the W is what determines when a starter is taken out.

Indians 7, Astros 6: Michael Brantley had an RBI double in the first inning and added a two-run single in the fifth. He’s hitting .318/.384/.561 with four homers and 15 driven in in 17 games. They should probably just award the Comeback Player of the Year Award now.

Yankees 3, Red Sox 1: It was Aaron Judge‘s birthday. In celebration he hit a two-run homer and made this spectacular catch, diving into the stands at Fenway:

The ump initially said it was no catch, but it was overturned on replay. The Yankees have won 11 of 14.

Orioles 5, Rays 4: Not a great night for the Rays. First, they gave up two runs on this little league homer of a disaster of a play:

 

Then, with a 4-3 lead in the 11th inning, they let the O’s come back and win it like this:

single
single
walk (bases now loaded)
sac fly (run scores)
walk (bases now loaded again)
walk

Alex Colome did everything until the second-to-last walk, then Danny Farquhar came in and walked in the winning run on four friggin’ pitches. I’m guessing Kevin Cash put his foot through a soda machine or something. At least I would’ve.

Phillies 7, Marlins 4: Maikel Franco hit a grand slam and the Phillies won their fifth game in a row. Franco had three hits in all. Sellout crowd too. No, not because the Marlins were in town. But because it was $1 hot dog night.

Pirates 6, Cubs 5: Pittsburgh needed six pitchers to get through this one, but they got through. Jon Lester allowed five runs on six hits and still hasn’t won a game this year. I suspect we’ll soon be hearing a lot about how it’s all attributable to David Ross being gone, whether there’s any truth to that or not. The game was most notable for Pirates second baseman Gift Ngoepe becoming the first player from Africa to play in the majors. He singled in his first at bat, too. The South African said this after the game:

“To accomplish this only for me but for my country and my continent is something so special. There are 1.62 billion people on our continent. To be the first person out of 1.62 billion to do this is amazing.”

Pretty cool.

Mariners 8, Tigers 0: James Paxton has been one of the few bright spots for the M’s in the early going. Here he tossed seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. Two driven in a piece for Jean SeguraGuillermo Heredia and Nelson Cruz.

Braves 8, Mets 2: Julio Teheran allowed only two runs while pitching into the seventh while Mets starter Robert Gsellman didn’t fool anyone, allowing five runs in the first inning. In all he allowed six runs — five earned — on ten hits without making it out of the fifth. The Braves end a six-game skid.

Rangers 14, Twins 3: The Rangers avoid a sweep. It was relatively close until late in the game when Ryan Rua hit his first career grand slam and Shin-Soo Choo hit a three-run homer in Texas’ eight-run eighth inning. The Rangers also had a four-run sixth inning in which they only recorded two hits. A hit-by-pitch, a wild pitch and a passed ball helped things along.

Nationals 11, Rockies 4: On Tuesday night Trea Turner hit for the cycle. Last night he fell a triple short of doing it again. Bryce Harper had four hits as he continues his early season tear. The top of the Nats’ order is brutal for opposing pitchers. Adam Eaton, Turner, Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy combined to go 13-for-24 with three homers and all 11 RBI on the night. It’s not surprising the Nats have the best record in baseball right now.

Padres 8, Diamondbacks 5: Down 5-3 in the ninth, San Diego put up a five-spot to come from behind. Ryan Schimpf did most of the damage, hitting a go-ahead, three-run homer off of Fernando Rodney. You’ll be shocked at his strategy in that situation:

“Just try not to do too much, really. Just trying to get ready for something to hit, trying to square something up.”

No word on whether he’s happy to help the ball club.

Angels 8, Athletics 5: Matt Shoemaker picks up his first win since being cracked in the skull with a comebacker last season. He tossed five innings, allowing two runs while scattering seven hits. Cameron Maybin helped his cause by going 3-for-4 with three driven in.

Giants 4, Dodgers 3: L.A. had a three-run lead heading into the bottom of the seventh but the Giants came back. Michael Morse, back with the Giants for the first time since 2014, hit a tying, pinch-hit homer in the eighth inning. Then in the 10th, Hunter Pence hit a game-winning sacrifice fly with the bases loaded.

Blue Jays vs. Cardinals — POSTPONED:

I can’t sleep tonight
Everybody’s saying everything is alright
Still I can’t close my eyes
I’m seeing a tunnel at the end of all of these lights
Sunny days, where have you gone?
I get the strangest feeling you belong
Why does it always rain on me?
Is it because I lied when I was seventeen?
Why does it always rain on me?
Even when the sun is shinning I can’t avoid the lightning

Video: Gift Ngoepe singles in his first major league at-bat

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
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Pirates infielder Gift Ngoepe, just called up from Triple-A Indianapolis, singled in his first major league at-bat on Wednesday evening against Cubs starter Jon Lester. It was a well-struck ground ball up the middle in the bottom of the fourth inning. Unfortunately for him, the Pirates could not bring him around to score.

Ngoepe, who was pinch-hitting, stayed in the game to play second base.