Steve Lyons doesn’t want your filthy, rally-killing home runs

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Remember a while ago, some had the idea that having slow runners on base was a bad idea because they “clogged up the bases“? Even though having runners on base directly leads to scoring runs? It took a bit of work (and ridicule) to get that idea out of the zeitgeist. Now, thanks to Steve Lyons, we have to do some extra work to get another bad idea out:

Lyons, who spent nine years as a Major Leaguer and subsequently became a broadcaster, is referring to the two-run home run Hanley Ramirez hit against Braves reliever David Carpenter earlier tonight to bring the game from 4-1 to 4-3. The two-run home run Yoenis Cespedes hit in the seventh inning to bring his team from 3-0 to 3-2 also qualifies as a “rally killer”.

If the idea happened to be fleshed out a little deeper, there may be something to Lyons’ theory. Opposing hitters in the Majors posted an OPS 21 points higher with runners on base than with the bases empty. Is this alone evidence? Of course not, because pitchers that tend to allow runners on base frequently tend to be pitchers of poorer quality, so the results are biased a bit. And 21 points of OPS is not that much to begin with. It’s a theory that needs to be researched a bit deeper rather than adamantly defended as sacrosanct.

However, we’re talking about scoring guaranteed runs. If given the choice to score 2-3 runs on a home run to close your deficit to within one run, or to undo the home run and wait for a base hit, you choose the home run every day of the week and twice on Sunday. In a sport where you’re considering a hitting phenom if you can succeed three out of every ten attempts, the Dodgers were very likely to stop scoring runs after Ramirez batted anyway. Braves reliever David Carpenter struck out 74 batters in 65.2 innings, so it isn’t surprising that he got back-to-back strikeouts on Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig after surrendering the Ramirez dinger. Similarly, Max Scherzer — who held the Athletics to one hit in his first six innings of work — was likely to continue dominating the A’s even after giving up that Cespedes homer, and he did, recording three quick outs in succession to wrap up the seventh inning.

And hey, does anyone remember this homer-fueled rally?

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Manoah, Merrifield lead Blue Jays to 3-1 win over Rays

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Alek Manoah pitched seven shutout innings, Whit Merrifield hit a three-run homer and the Toronto Blue Jays regained the top AL wild-card spot with a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night.

The Blue Jays lead Tampa Bay by one game. The top wild card finisher will host all games in their best-of-three opening-round series, while the other two wild cards play strictly on the road.

Manoah (15-7) scattered four hits, walked two and struck out eight while throwing a season-high 113 pitches. The righty worked out of a two-on, one-out jam in the sixth by striking out Randy Arozarena and getting a flyout from David Peralta.

Jordan Romano replaced Tim Mayza with two on and two outs in the eighth and allowed pinch-hitter Harold Ramirez‘s RBI infield single but avoided further damage by striking out Manuel Margot. Romano finished the game to get his 35th save in 41 chances.

Tampa Bay starter Drew Rasmussen (10-7) gave up one run, three hits and two walks in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out five.

The teams combined for 31 runs, with the Rays accounting for 20, in the first two games of the series that were both won by Tampa Bay.

Arozarena got the Rays’ first hit off Manoah with a two-out double in the fourth. He became the first Tampa Bay player and 20th big leaguer to have 40 doubles, 20 homers and 30 stolen bases in a season.

Teoscar Hernandez ended Rasmussen’s night with a double in the seventh. Brooks Raley entered and, after a walk to pinch-hitter Danny Jansen, Merrifield made it 3-0 on his 10th homer of the season.

Merrifield homered twice in Thursday night’s 10-5 loss to the Rays.

Alejandro Kirk opened the second with a single before Rasmussen retired 12 in a row until Merrifield’s leadoff double in the sixth.

Plate umpire Corey Blaser took a hard foul ball by Margot on the mask in the eighth but remained in the game.

HONORING KK

The Rays posted a thank you on the message board for CF Kevin Kiermaier, who is out for the season following left hip surgery. Kiermaier is in the final season of a $53.5 million, six-year contract that includes a club option for 2023 that is expected to be declined.

TEAM AWARDS

Rays ace Shane McClanahan was voted the Don Zimmer MVP award winner by members of the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. CF Jose Siri was selected as the outstanding rookie. 3B Yandy Diaz received the Paul C. Smith Champions award as the player who best exemplifies the spirit of true professionalism on and off the field.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: RHP Nate Pearson (lat strain) allowed three runs and three hits over two-thirds of an inning for Triple-A Buffalo.

Rays: 2B Brandon Lowe (lower back) is done for the season.

UP NEXT

McClanahan (12-6), pulled from his start Tuesday in the fifth inning due to neck tightness, will face Blue Jays RHP Ross Stripling (8-4) on Sunday.