Tuesday, June 16, 2009

O's Errors & Stranded Runners Result In Loss To Mets

By "head up to New York to play the Mets" (in the below post) I clearly meant "the Mets will come down to Baltimore". Or I would have, if I could read a schedule correctly.

Jeremy Guthrie will take the mound for the Birds against Mike Pelfrey. These two guys are a little connected for me, as when I was looking at Guthrie's low strike-out rate for a hard-thrower, Pelfrey came up as a guy who struck out even less guys despite a good (velocity-wise) fastball.

Well Pelfrey's heater is down this year (from 92.8 mph to 92.0), and his already mediocre strike-out rate has dropped along with it (4.93 K/9 to 3.86). His walks are up too (2.87 BB/9 to 3.31), and yet he's maintained a decent ERA of 4.68 (4.46 FIP, 5.12 tRA) by limiting the home run and keeping the ball on the ground (54.2% GB rate).

Jeremy Guthrie's fastball velocity has been amazingly consistent since even 2005 with the Indians, staying around 93.3 mph. His strike-out rate has rebounded a little from his early season struggles up to 5.77 K/9 - higher than last year's 5.66 but lower than 2007's 6.31. The walks are also better than 2008 (2.58 BB/9 to 2.74), but worse than 2007 (2.41). So why has his ERA ballooned from 3.70 and 3.63 all the way up to 5.52? It's not just the ERA's either - the FIPs have gone 4.41-4.53-5.70 and the tRAs 5.10-4.84-6.02. I think it may have something to do with the awful 1.96 HR/9 he's giving up. That's 44 HR over a 200 IP season, and even for a guy who gives up more longballs than average, that's not good.

Heath from Dempsey's Army took a look at why that may be, but couldn't find anything:
"After pouring over Pitch F/X data, pitch types, pitch sequence, the counts , his velocity, the types of hitters he's facing...everything I could think of. But there's no common denominator! They're launching home runs off of every kind of pitch he throw without discrimination. It doesn't happen when he's behind in the count. He velocity and control (at least, his walk rates and amount of strikes he throws) are consistent with his first two seasons."
May I posit a possible solution? Variation on balls in play + bad luck. He's giving up more flyballs than usual (43.6% FB rate, compared to 38% and 38.2% the last two years) and he's giving up more home runs per flyball than usual (14.7% HR/FB to 10.5% and 11.2% the last two years), and the combination of the two factors - which individually wouldn't be that damaging - have really caused some trouble. Looking at the rarely used by me (though very useful) HitTrackerOnline, the average distance of the home runs Jeremy has allowed this year is 391.8 ft with a "true" distance of 395.8 ft. Last year it was 397.8 ft and 400.1 "true" ft, and the year before it was 391.1 ft and 393.3 "true" ft. Don't think you can draw many conclusions from that, but at least he isn't getting consistently crushed. This will probably be a year where Jeremy gives up a whole bunch more home runs than usual, but from here on out there really isn't a good reason to think that he'll be too far away from his career 1.28 HR/9 numbers. And that should bring his various runs allowed metrics down, though he still isn't the best pitcher on this staff.

Top 1:
  • Nice start for Guthrie, as he strikes out Fernando Martinez swinging wiht a nice change-up as part of a 1-2-3 inning.
Bottom 1:
  • Pelfrey counters with a perfect inning of his own.
Top 2:
  • 94 mph fastball down and away gets David Wright swinging.
  • Ryan Church flies out to center.
  • Now Gary Sheffield goes down swinging at a nasty slider- that's 3 K's for Guts.
Bottom 2:
  • Another three-up, three-down.
Top 3:
  • Brian Schneider becomes the first base-runner of the game with a one-out walk.
  • He's left stranded after making it to second though.
Bottom 3:
  • No base-runner yet for the O's.
Top 4:
  • F-Mart draws a lead-off walk to start the fourth.
  • Carlos Beltran hits a double play ball to Brian Roberts, who can't get a handle on it and everyone is safe.
  • David Wright singles to left to score a run, and Nolan Reimold's throw home was way off-line allowing Beltran to go to third.
  • Church lines a single to left that Reimold plays on a bounce. Another run scores to make it 2-0.
  • Sheffield lines a single to right to load the bases.
  • Daniel Murphy flies out to right to bring in the third NY run.
  • Schneider singles up the middle to extend the lead to 4-0.
  • Luis Castillo grounds into a double play to finally end the inning.
  • I'm not sure how many of those four runs are earned given the errors, but Guthrie left a lot of hittable balls over the plate in that one.
Bottom 4:
  • Nick Markakis gives the O's their first man on base with a two-out single to left-field.
  • Aubrey Huff flies out to the warning track in right-field to end the inning.
Top 5:
  • Lead-off single by Cora, but he's left stranded.
Bottom 5:
  • Reimold draws a two-out walk.
  • Matt Wieters lines a low-and-away pitch into left for a single.
  • Robert Andino walks on five pitches to load the bases for the top of the line-up.
  • Roberts strikes out leave the three runner stranded. What a big out.
Top 6:
  • Church strikes out swinging, but the ball gets away from Wieters allowing the runner to get to first.
  • A pop-up and a double play end the inning.
Bottom 6:
  • Adam Jones singles to center.
  • Nick Markakis goes out and gets a change-up, pulling it over the scoreboard for a two-run homer. Nick the Stick might be back after his extendned funk.
  • Huff pulls a single to right-field.
  • Mora erases him though, by grounding into a double play.
  • Luke Scott pulls a couple pitches just foul - including one that had home run distance - and ends up drawing a walk. That'll be it for Pelfrey, with Sean Green coming in from the pen.
  • Reimold lines out to left. Still, the lead has been cut in half.
Top 7:
  • A one-out single by Luis Castillo will be the end of the line for Guthrie. Alberto Castillo takes the mound.
  • Alex Cora singles to right.
  • F-Mart singles passed a diving Roberts to load the bases and drive Alberto from the game.
  • Danys Baez will try to get a double play ball.
  • Beltran grounds to first, with Huff throwing home to get the force. No throw to first, though.
  • Baez falls behind Wright 3-0, but comes back to run the count full. Wright fouls a few pitches off, and then hits a pop-up down the line into short right-field. Huff ranges out and reaches over his shoulder, but drops the ball. Two runs score to make it 6-2. Damn.
  • Church grounds out to end the inning.
Bottom 7:
  • O's can't counter, going down in order.
Top 8:
  • Two-out double by Schneider, but Baez spears a Castillo grounder up the middle for the third out.
Bottom 8:
  • Another 1-2-3 inning.
Top 9:
  • Matt Albers gives up a couple of singles but keeps the Mets off the board.
Bottom 9:
  • Mora singles to right.
  • Scott singles to right. Suddenly the O's have something going, and Fransisco Rodriguez will relieve Bobby Parnell.
  • Very nice plate appearance by Reimold, taking pitches and fouling some off, and eventually drawing a walk.
  • Four consecutive change-ups strike out Wieters swinging.
  • Ty Wigginton pinch-hits for Andino. He has a good plate appearance - taking a close pitch for ball three and then barely checking his swing for ball four. The walk brings in the third Orioles run and Brian Roberts becomes the potential winning run at the plate.
  • Roberts grounds to third, but the Mets can only get one out. Another run scores and now there are two outs.
  • Mammoth cut at a fastball fro strike one. Swing and a miss at a nasty slider for strike two. Roberts steals second on a slider low for a ball. Fastball swung on and missed for strike three.
The O's tried to stage a comeback, but the missed opportunities early in the game on offense and the errors on defense (with an assist from Jeremy Guthrie throwing some meatballs) did them in. The O's lose game one of the series 6-4.

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