“If I owned this place and Hell, I’d rent this place out and live in Hell.” This is how every Red Sox fan must feel about New Comiskey…er, US Cellular Field…after witnessing the worst loss in Red Sox playoff history yesterday. But as frightening as this game was, the most frightening thing I learned yesterday was that Rocky V is Chone Figgins‘ favorite movie.
Jonah Keri takes on Laundry Day in Chicago in his Game of the Week, so here are some notes from the other two Division Series games played Tuesday.
- If not for Mark Loretta, Chris Carpenter would have had a very easy day:
Carpenter pitch count, Game 1 Batter # pit % pit Mark Loretta 25 27.5 Others 66 72.5 Total 91 100.0
Of course, not all at-bats are created equal. Khalil Greene made two outs on just two pitches, significantly reducing Carpenter’s pitch count. Loretta also helped take the luster off his great at-bats by killing a third-inning rally with a double play. In this he was not alone–Ramon Hernandez and Joe Randa were also nice enough to ground into double plays. Carpenter’s G/F ratio was a concern entering the game, and though his G/F ratio for the game (1.5 on 9 GB & 6 FB) was below his season average of 1.98, the three double plays are a signal that Carpenter can still get a ground ball when he needs one.
- Was this Jake Peavy‘s worst start ever? No, but it was his worst start in two years:
Jake Peavy's Worst Starts Date OPP IP GSc 08/18/02 @MON 3.1 12 07/04/03 SF 4.0 14 07/26/02 @ARI 4.1 14 10/04/05 @SLN 4.1 15 08/25/03 @ARI 2.0 17 2005 Avg 6.7 61
However, five days after these other four starts, Peavy was back on the mound. Now he’s on the mend. Peavy’s cracked ribs will keep him out the rest of the season, and he likely took San Diego’s post-season hopes and dreams with him.
- When Jason Isringhausen allowed the tying run to get to the plate in the ninth inning, ESPN announcers Jon Miller and Joe Morgan raised the issue of whether closers do better in an 8-5 game rather than an 8-2 game. Looking at Izzy’s Leverage (LEV) stats for 2005, we can get to the bottom of this (thanks to Keith Woolner for the info):
Isringhausen 2005 Stats by Situation LEV IP ERA H/9 K/BB less than .75 20.0 3.60 6.30 2.0 .75-1.25 20.0 2.15 6.03 3.2 more than 1.25 18.0 7.00 7.50 1.4
Sample-size issues aside, it appears that Isringhausen does nearly as well in low-leverage situations as he does in average-leverage situations. In any event, you would not look at this data and conclude that giving up four hits in 2/3 inning would be a regular occurrence, no matter the score.
- A lot was made of the fact that Mike Mussina had a much higher ERA in the second half than the first: 5.16 to 3.97. While some of this is due to a rise in his walk rate, more of this can be traced to an increased hit rate and BABIP, which is largely out of Mussina’s control. Looking at his three-true-outcome statistics, we can see that though he has not pitched as much during the second half, it has not been all doom and gloom:
Half IP K/BB K/9 BB/9 HR/9 First 113.0 2.96 6.37 2.15 1.19 Second 66.1 3.10 8.44 2.72 1.09
Finishing 2005 with a VORP of 23.3, Mussina is certainly not the pitcher he was in 2003, when his VORP totaled 59.1. But like all aging pitchers, he still has a few tricks up his sleeve. Mix in a home plate umpire with a huge strike zone (Gary Darling ranks sixth overall in 2005 strike %), and tonight’s outing no longer seems that strange.
- Mike Scioscia really makes you wonder which is more important: trying to win games or appeasing his veterans. Neither Darin Erstad nor Steve Finley has had much success versus right-handed pitching this season. But this has not stopped Scioscia from playing them over Casey Kotchman. Admittedly, Finley hit some balls hard last night, and one even fell in for a double, but one night does not atone for a season of misdeeds:
2005 stats vs. RHP Player AB AVG OPS Kotchman 94 .277 896 Erstad 419 .291 733 Finley 288 .201 600
Not only did Scioscia not start Kotchman, but when he did insert him, it was in the wrong situation, pinch-hitting for Juan Rivera during the ninth. While Kotchman does enjoy good success against righties, Mariano Rivera chews up lefties, and always has. Conversely, Juan Rivera handles righties just fine and was 2-for-3 on the night. In the end this amounts to nitpicking. The main issue is that Kotchman should be the starting DH or first baseman, Rivera should be the starting center fielder, and Finley and/or Erstad should be bench players.
- Erstad and Scioscia also combined to kill the sixth inning for the Angels. With Vladimir Guerrero on first in the sixth, the Angels elected to hit-and-run (something the fabulous Joe and Tim failed to recognize) with Erstad, even though Erstad was the player in the lineup least suited for the job:
Game 1 Lineup 2005 SO Rates Overall vs. LHP Player SO PA SO Rate SO PA SO Rate Erstad 109 667 .1634 39 212 .1840 Finley 71 440 .1614 16 126 .1270 Figgins 101 720 .1403 38 252 .1508 Anderson 84 603 .1393 32 196 .1633 Kennedy 64 460 .1391 19 140 .1357 Rivera 44 376 .1170 12 150 .0800 Molina 41 449 .0913 10 137 .0730 Cabrera 50 587 .0852 11 176 .0625 Guerrero 48 594 .0808 9 170 .0529
Not only does Erstad strike out more than every other regular on the team, he also strikes out more than everyone versus left-handers. This wasn’t stopping the Angels, who are aggressive to a fault. Had they not hit-and-run, and if Erstad had reached (keyword being if), Molina’s home run would have made a much greater impact.
Paul Swydan is a contributor to Baseball Prospectus. He can be reached here.