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Situational hitting has made big difference in World Series


Major League Baseball has famously become a “three true outcomes” game in recent years. For the uninitiated, the “three true outcomes” are the results of plate appearances which don’t put a ball into the field of play: a strikeout, a walk, or a home run. In theory, it makes sense: fielders turn balls in play into outs. If you hit the ball over the fence, there’s nothing the defenders can do. And the numbers show that a home run is, by far, the most productive thing a hitter can do.

The 2018 season was the first in baseball history in which hitters in aggregate struck out more often than they registered hits, 41,207 to 41,019. The last three seasons have seen at least 5,585 home runs hit. Along with 2000, they make up the four most homer-happy seasons in baseball history.

Yet situational hitting — not “three true outcomes” baseball — has made all the difference in the World Series. In Game 1, the Dodgers had nine plate appearances with runners in scoring position. Only two of those batters reached base (a single and a walk); seven made outs. The Red Sox had 15 plate appearances with runners in scoring position; only eight made outs while seven reached base (three walks, three singles, and a three-run home run).

In Game 2, the Dodgers were an improved 1-for-3 with runners in scoring position. The Red Sox went a comparable 2-for-6. One of the Dodgers’ runs was brought home with two outs. Meanwhile, the Red Sox scored all four of their runs with two outs. Note that the Red Sox have only hit one home run. Of their 12 total runs scored in two World Series games, only three were by way of the dinger.

This is not just a World Series trend for both teams. Between the NLDS and NLCS, the Dodger offense put together a .190/.330/.333 triple-slash line in 104 plate appearances with runners in scoring position. The Red Sox, in the ALDS and ALCS, hit .370/.495/.658 in 97 trips to the dish. If we add a “two outs” qualifier to that, the Dodgers had a .705 OPS while the Red Sox had a 1.375 OPS. The two teams’ execution with RISP was also disparate during the regular season. The Red Sox led all 30 teams with an .872 OPS in those situations; the Dodgers’ .760 OPS with RISP ranked 14th.

The Red Sox have shown themselves all year long to be a team that is better able to execute when opportunities present themselves. They won 16 more regular season games than the Dodgers did and they appear to clearly be the better team in the World Series, too.

Giants beat Mariners again in road game playing at home

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SAN FRANCISCO — The nomadic Mariners are taking their bats from the Bay Area to Southern California for three more “home games” on the road.

Wilmer Flores hit a go-ahead, two-run triple in the seventh inning of the Giants’ 6-4 win Thursday that sent Seattle to a second home defeat played in San Francisco’s ballpark because of dangerous air quality in Western Washington.

The series was moved because of smoke from all the West Coast wildfires. Now, the Mariners are altering their air travel reservations once more and headed to San Diego for a weekend series at Petco Park.

“It’s disappointing, but its the world we’re living in in 2020,” Mariners starter Nick Margevicius said. “There’s a lot of things we can’t control, a lot of things in the season, a lot of things in the world right now.”

Darin Ruf homered in the second inning to back Giants starter Tyler Anderson, who hurt his own cause when he was ejected in the bottom of the third by plate umpire Edwin Moscoso for emphatically expressing his displeasure with a walk to Kyle Lewis.

“Tyler knows that that just can’t happen,” mangaer Gabe Kapler said. “It puts us in a really tough spot.”

Wandy Peralta followed Anderson and threw 49 pitches over a career-high three innings, and Rico Garcia (1-1) worked one inning for his first major league win. Sam Selman finished for his first career save, stranding two runners when Lewis lined out and Kyle Seager flied out.

“Peralta came up huge for us,” Kapler said. “As tough as that was it was equally rewarding and in some ways inspiring to see him come out and give us the length that he did and battle. It gave us a chance to climb back into the game. I thought our guys continued to be resilient.”

JP Crawford hit a two-run single in the second following RBI singles by Tim Lopes and Phillip Ervin, but Seattle’s bullpen couldn’t hold a three-run lead.

Margevicius was staked to an early lead but Kendall Graveman (0-3) couldn’t hold it. The Mariners capitalized in the second after Anderson hit Seager in the backside.

Seattle has fared better against San Diego this season after losing all four to San Francisco. Manager Scott Servais had prepared himself for the possibility his club might have to stay on the road a little longer.

“I think with our players and everybody else it was going to be a two-day trip. That’s what we were led to believe that everything was going to clear up in Seattle,” Servais said. “We can’t control the weather it’s bigger than all of us and with what’s going on there with the smoke. Certainly understand why we have to go but I don’t think anybody was really prepared for it.”

Brandon Crawford contributed a sacrifice fly and Evan Longoria and Alex Dickerson RBI singles for the Giants.

Austin Slater returned at designated hitter for San Francisco and went 0 for 2 with a walk as he works back from a painful right elbow. Luis Basabe singled in the sixth for his first career hit and also stole his first base.

“I didn’t think about it,” said Basabe, who will gift the special souvenir ball to his mother. “I was just happy to get the opportunity.”

Justin Smoak made his Giants home debut as a pinch hitter in the sixth facing his former club after he signed a minor league deal earlier this month following his release by the Brewers.

Anderson, who was trying to win consecutive starts for the first time this season, received his second career ejection. The other was Aug. 13, 2016, while with Colorado.