Backs against the wall, Giants and A’s come through

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With four teams combining on just 16 hits and five runs, Tuesday’s games were all about the pitching. Facing elimination, the Giants and A’s survived thanks to the strength of their rotations and bullpens.

Tied 1-1 for most of the day, the Giants tried emptying their bench as a means to score a run in the eighth after the Reds brought in lefty Sean Marshall. They sent up three straight pinch-hitters, none of whom reached base in the inning. The strategy may have proved very costly in time, particularly with Hunter Pence nursing a leg problem that left him hobbled after he reached base in the 10th. The Giants still had catcher Hector Sanchez available, and they could have put Buster Posey at first base and Brandon Belt in the outfield had the need arisen. But if they had made that move, the bench would have been completely exhausted for the rest of the game.

Fortunately, the Giants were able to win the game in the 10th, after a bad-hop grounder led to a Scott Rolen error and an unearned run against Jonathan Broxton. Sergio Romo, who got his first at-bat since 2010 in the top of the 10th, closed out the game.

After Ryan Vogelsong’s shaky first inning, Giants pitchers allowed a total of one-hit to the Reds in the 2-1 victory. Still, one wonders just how differently the game might have gone had Brandon Phillips not gotten thrown out trying to take third in the top of the first. The Reds ended up with three hits and a walk in the inning, yet scored just one run.

That first inning was the only time the Giants were in trouble today. One could say A’s pitchers weren’t even in trouble the once. The Tigers were able to put two men on just once, doing so with one out in the top of the second. Too bad for them that the wrong part of the Detroit lineup was up in that situation. Andy Dirks and Avisail Garcia both grounded out to strand the runners.

Thanks to a couple of sterling plays by A’s outfielders, both on balls hit by Prince Fielder, the Tigers never had an extra-base hit in their 2-0 loss in Oakland. The A’s bullpen, which was so disappointing in the Game 2 loss, rebounded to pitch three scoreless innings, with just two hits and no walks allowed. Sean Doolittle fanned all three batters he faced in the eighth. Grant Balfour gave up a single to Miguel Cabrera in the ninth, only to induce a double play from Fielder afterwards.

And thus the Bay Area teams will live to play another day. By virtue of being at home for the remainder of the series, one imagines the A’s will have a better chance than the Giants of advancing. Of course, they’ll have to keep pitching well, as the offense could be stymied by Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. The Giants haven’t inspired a lot of faith, not with their offense scoring a total of five runs in three games. It’s a good bet that the Reds will put up some runs at least one of these next two games, and the Giants might be hard-pressed to match them.

Derek Jeter, Larry Walker elected to the Hall of Fame

Derek Jeter
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Longtime Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and outfielder Larry Walker were elected into the Hall of Fame. Voting results from the Baseball Writers Association of America were unveiled just moments ago on MLB Network. Jeter (99.7%) and Walker (76.6%) were the only players on the 2020 ballot to earn at least the 75 percent support necessary for induction into Cooperstown. Jeter was in his first year on the ballot and Walker was in his 10th and final year.

Jeter, 45, was selected by the Yankees in the first round, sixth overall, in the 1992 draft and would spend the remainder of his professional career with the organization. Over parts of 20 big league seasons, Jeter hit .310/.377/.440 with 260 home runs, 1,311 RBI, 1,923 runs scored, and 358 stolen bases.

Jeter was a terrific player during the regular season, winning the 1996 American League Rookie of the Year Award, five Silver Slugger Awards, and earning 14 All-Star nominations. However, he did his best work in the postseason, helping the Yankees win five championships during his tenure. He even earned the 2000 World Series MVP Award. Overall, across 734 postseason at-bats, Jeter hit .308/.374/.465 with 20 homers, 61 RBI, 111 runs scored, and 18 stolen bases. While his postseason line is similar to his regular season line, it is worth considering that he faced tougher pitchers on average under more pressure in the postseason.

While defensive metrics weren’t kind to Jeter, he made some very memorable plays in the field. There was, of course, his flip to catcher Jorge Posada to tag out Jeremy Giambi at home plate in the 2001 ALDS, salvaging a throw that missed the cutoff man in the seventh inning of a game the Yankees only led 1-0.

There was also Jeter’s famous dive into the stands in the 12th inning of a July 1, 2004 game at home against the Red Sox. With the two clubs tied at three apiece, the Red Sox threatened with a runner on second base. Pinch-hitter Trot Nixon hit a weak fly ball down the left field line. Jeter ran full speed into the outfield, catching the ball that would have otherwise landed fair, his momentum taking him full-bore into the stands. After a few tense moments, Jeter famously popped his head up, face bloodied from making contact with a seat.

Jeter retired as the Yankees’ all-time leader in games played (2,747), hits (3,465), doubles (544), and stolen bases (358). He’s second in runs scored (1,923), third in total bases (4,921), fourth in walks (1,082), fifth in career WAR (72.4), eighth in batting average (.310), and fifth in RBI (1,311). Jeter is sixth on the all-time hits list behind Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, and Tris Speaker.

Jeter, who was one vote shy of unanimous election, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame along with Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller on July 26. Simmons and Miller (posthumously, in Miller’s case) were elected by the Modern Baseball Era Committee last month.

Walker, 53, was not drafted. Rather, the Expos signed him to a minor league contract in 1985. He would go on to spend 17 seasons in the majors, the first six with the Expos, the next nine and a half with the Rockies, and the final season and a half with the Cardinals. He hit .313/.400/.565 with 383 home runs, 1,311 RBI, 1,355 runs scored, and 230 stolen bases.

That Walker spent a majority of his career with the Rockies was used by some against him, as Coors Field has famously inflated hitters’ numbers. Unsurprisingly, Walker had a 1.172 OPS at Coors Field. However, even his aggregate away split — an .865 OPS — was significantly above-average, even considering the offense-friendly era in which he played. Walker was also a tremendous defensive corner outfield, racking up 94 defensive runs saved above average according to Baseball Reference.

Other players receiving a majority of support from the BBWAA, but under the necessary 75 percent include Curt Schilling (70%), Roger Clemens (61%), Barry Bonds (60.7%), and Omar Vizquel (52.6%).

Players who received less than a majority of support but more than the five percent minimum to remain on the ballot are: Scott Rolen (35.3%), Billy Wagner (31.7%), Gary Sheffield (30.5%), Todd Helton (29.2%), Manny Ramírez (28.2%), Jeff Kent (27.5%), Andruw Jones (19.4%), Sammy Sosa (13.9%), Andy Pettitte (11.3%), and Bobby Abreu (5.5%).

Players who received less than five percent of the vote and thus will fall off the ballot are: Paul Konerko (2.5%), Jason Giambi (1.5%), Alfonso Soriano (1.5%), Eric Chávez (0.5%), Cliff Lee (0.5%), Adam Dunn (0.3%), Brad Penny (0.3%), Raúl Ibañez (0.3%), J.J. Putz (0.3%), Josh Beckett (0%), Heath Bell (0%), Chone Figgins (0%), Rafael Furcal (0%), Carlos Peña (0%), Brian Roberts (0%), and José Valverde (0%).