Last night, the Marlins had themselves a topsy-turvy game against the San Francisco Giants, one of those games when you wish you weren’t a diehard team fan. Knowing that Tim Lincecum was going to be on the mound for the Giants should have accustomed me to the idea of losing. Unfortunately, those pesky Fish mounted a classic comeback and inspired me with hope.
Hope that would be dashed by one swing by a player with a career .342 wOBA.
Let’s hop on board the rollercoaster known as “Giants 9, Marlins 6.”
The View from Afar
That is one hell of a ride, huh? The Marlins at some point held a 14.8% chance of winning (all else equal) according to FanGraphs’ Win Expectancy tables. Let’s walk down memory lane to the important stops from that point on.
Hanley Ramirez’ 3-run home run: .290 WPA
The situation leading up to this play was very interesting. Lincecum was cruising along, having struck out 12 hitters and walked none up until that inning. Mike Lamb pinch hit for Anibal Sanchez (who did not have an awful night but did not get the best timing on hits) and singled, followed by Cameron Maybin also singling. Chris Coghlan flew out on a drive to left center that was caught by Aaron Rowand on a very impressive dive. Lamb tagged up on the play, and the announcers lauded it as a smart move with only one out.
And it all ended up for naught, as Hanley sent it deep and gone. Here it is on HitTracker (thanks to Greg Rybarczyk for these awesome HR graphics).
Once again, Hanley went to one of the deeper areas of Sun Life Stadium and jacked a huge home run. The true distance on that blast was 408 ft.
The key here was that Chris Leroux was pitching pretty well, opening the inning with two outs. The hit by Pablo Sandoval gets through, followed by the double by Bengie Molina. Aubrey Huff was intentionally walked so that Leroux could face Uribe. Looking at the guidelines set by The Book, Huff against the righty Leroux would have to be at least 1.23 times better in terms of wOBA than Uribe versus righties for the walk in this situation to break even. Huff currently projects better overall (.344 versus .332), so it was a good walk.
Uribe’s hit put us on our heels. In the linked highlight, the color announcer for the Giants mentioned that Leroux had been throwing the slider to righties and that “Uribe was sitting on it.” Leroux had thrown six sliders to right handers up until that point. The only problem with this one as opposed to the others was that it hung, ending up in the middle of plate rather than away from Uribe. Major league hitters probably do a pretty good job on pitches like those, with or without sitting on them.
Dan Uggla’s 3-run homer: .662 (!) WPA
You know I threw my hands up in the air for that one. Uggla got a high fastball at 87.8 mph, bordering the top of the zone, from Sergio Romo. That was a mistake.
It did not go far, with a true distance of only 374 ft., but it was a high fly ball that at least was able to clear the Teal Monster
One thing I did take issue with is Tommy Hutton’s commentary. Hutton said that Jorge Cantu had “carried the team” through April. Now that Cantu had a bad game (he whiffed four times), Uggla and Hanley are “picking him up.” Someone should warn Tommy Hutton that Uggla and Cantu were equally good through April.
Cantu in April: .311/.354/.567, .392 wOBA
Uggla in April: .295/.364/.534, .391 wOBA
Exactly the same. Hardly was one “carrying” the team any more than the other guy. But one had 23 RBI, while the other had 14, so there you go. Sigh.
Aaron Rowand’s home run off Leo Nunez: .348 WPA
Again, on HitTracker:
Nunez wasn’t looking terribly sharp to begin with, having missed on locations and gotten BIP outs. Still, he threw two sliders to Rowand and, once again, the Giants’ color guy said “Rowand had to have been sitting on it.” Really? He had to? Why, because he hit a home run? Had that been a fly ball out (which it could have been, had it had about 15 ft less travel on it), would you have said the same thing? It’s that sort of results-based announcing that makes me mad. A guy hits a ball a long way, and announcers say it was a mistake pitch. A guy swings and misses at the same pitch, and the announcers call it a great breaking ball. Go figure.
(Note: I don’t mean to single out that guy only, but that’s just what I heard. All announcers, our guys included, do that all the time. It’s annoying.)
The Rest of the Ugly Story
I won’t bore you with the remaining details. The Marlins kept Burke Badenhop in long enough to get beaten up, and we eventually lost. A disappointing outing which could have easily saved us all some heartbreak had the team just rolled over to Lincecum in the sixth. Still, a fun game to watch and certainly exciting all the way to the end. I was glad I was able to tune in.