It’s an old sports journalist cliche that certain teams just find ways to win. It’s a lazy and dumb way of describing things, but sometimes it can just seem so accurate. Just like most of the games that the Rays have played this season, considering all they lost in the offseason and the early going of this year, they didn’t have much business winning it, yet with one swing in the bottom of the ninth that’s exactly what they did by the score 3-2.

Anatomy Of A Game Winning Home Run

After giving up a lead off single to American League Player of the Week Ben Zobrist, B.J. Upton came up to the plate.

Here’s how Jon Rauch reacted:

  1. Throws a pickoff throw to first.
  2. Throws a pickoff throw to first.
  3. Gets a called strike.
  4. Gets taken deep to left center field.

It’s almost fitting that a team which seems so preoccupied with keeping base runners active as a means of distracting pitchers and forcing them to make mistakes, is harshly bitten after their closer throws two pickoff attempts in a row to first base.

According to Rauch: “I screwed up.”

Biggest Play Of The Game

Guess.

Most Important Player Of The Game

When a game is won on a single play, it’s fairly obvious that the most important player of the game will be the one that orchestrated it. And that of course was B.J. Upton who single handedly increased his team’s win probability by .612. The next closest player was the previously maligned Jo-Jo Reyes who added .250 to his team’s probability of winning.

Biggest Opportunity Missed

With one out and two on in the fourth inning, David Cooper worked the count to three and one before taking a strike, fouling off two more and then popping one up in the infield that Elliot Johnson caught.

Which also brings us to . . .

The Aggravating Things That John Farrell Did

Of course, it couldn’t be a Toronto Blue Jays game without at least one questionable running decision. In the top of the eighth, Adam Lind got on base with a walk and was then caught stealing on a 2-2 pitch to Juan Rivera with one out. It wasn’t exactly the safest time to send a player not known for his running ability. The score was 2-1 at the time, and it seems to me anyway that running into outs isn’t necessarily the best strategy with that scoreline.

I’m sure that there were some lineups thrown together during the 2008 season when Brad Wilkerson and Kevin Mench were featured far too prominently than they should have, but tonight’s one through nine is at the very least one of the ugliest that I can remember. It’s not so much John Farrell’s fault. I mean it’s not like he’s been handed fine Italian marble to sculpt his batting order out of, but anytime Corey Patterson bats second, I will reserve the right to use snark.

It wasn’t exactly an earth shattering move, but I feel as though Farrell pulled Jo-Jo Reyes at exactly the right time.

The Statistics You Won’t Believe

Yunel Escobar has hit the second most ground balls and the second least amount of fly balls in the league. Tonight, he didn’t get a hit, but walked twice.

Elliot Johnson stole the first base of his Major League career tonight. In 2008, it was Johnson who ran home in a Spring Training game and instead of sliding toward the plate, he purposely collided with Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, breaking his wrist. Joe Girardi had a conniption.

The last time Edwin Encarnacion had two extra base hits in a single game was April 22nd against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Adam Lind’s two for four performance tonight means he has 13 hits in his last 29 at bats. That includes 9 singles and four home runs.

Shutdowns/Meltdowns

Shawn Camp’s clean seventh and Mark Rzepczynski’s scoreless eighth earned both relievers an official shutdown, but as you might imagine, Jon Rauch’s blown save in the ninth counted as a massive meltdown.

Stray Observations Of The Game

Apparently, the Tampa Bay Lightning had all of their fans wear blue t-shirts at tonight’s playoff game. It looked as though the Rays did the same thing.

I’m pretty sure that I’ve never seen a harder hit single in my life than the one that Corey Patterson smashed to right field in the first inning. How did that not turn into extra bases?

I watched Major League last night, and so the first pitch of Brandon Gomes career, hard, up and in on John McDonald reminded me a lot of Ricky Vaughan.

You’d have to think that Jo-Jo Reyes saved his job in the rotation which ahead of tonight’s game sounded as though it was on the line.

It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Frank Francisco takes over the closer role based solely on Rauch’s performance tonight.

I saw that Brett Wallace hit a home run tonight. Remember when the Blue Jays traded him to the Houston Astros for Anthony Gose. The team’s willingness to move him makes me wonder that David Cooper’s time in the starting lineup may have as much to do with a trade showcase as it does anything else.

Comments (16)

  1. Another odd stat – Rajai Davis has a 0.63 grounder/airball ratio (I think that was before tonight’s game). For a speed guy, that’s a great way to waste his disruptability.

  2. He’s acting like Willy Mays Hayes out there.

  3. ummm, Dustin. I think…I think Wallace is in Houston. Can, uh, you stop yelling at me now?

  4. If String is AA, does that make Travis Bodie, Mike? That’d be incredibly depressing, if poetic.

  5. …And by “Mike” I meant “Parkes”, because I am drunkenly listening to the Jays Talk while I catch up on blog posts at 2:30 am.

  6. Roger Dorn is just a white Edwin Encarnacion.

  7. This result is why you shouldn’t use a one month hot start for Jon Rauch to justify naming him the closer when you have many years of mediocrity from Rauch that tells you Frank Francisco is your better option at closer.

    I’m getting sick of this team using a few hot games from mediocre players like Nix, Patterson, etc. to justify giving them regular playing time and vice versa taking away playing time from better players when they struggle.

  8. How did Uptons’ HR not increase his team’s chance of winning by 100% Your stat is flawed.

    • Because of the runner on base and they were down one run. The total of both team’s contributions adds up to 100.

      Similarly, in a tie game, wouldn’t they have a 50% chance of winning?

  9. Darnell….because to increase a team’s winning % by 100% would mean that they had a 0% chance to win before Upton hit his homer. The statement that Upton increased the win probability by .612 implies that the Rays, with 1 on and 0 out in the 9th had a win probability of .388. (And if you were being sarcastic and making a joke, congrats because I did originally laugh and my sarcasm detector malfunctions this early in the morning).

  10. Also, that was Upton’s total contribution during the entire game. His outs in previous at bats subtract from that total.

  11. I hate to look in the review mirror but has anyone noticed that Brett Wallace is hitting clean up for the Astros with a .383 avg while Gose is in New Hampshire at .232? Looks like D’Arnaud and Hechavarria are having a tough time at the plate too

  12. Trading Wallace for Gose was a poor value trade to begin with. It’s fine if Wallace isn’t your idea of a long-term 1B, but I wish they could have gotten more for him than a raw CF prospect that can’t hit.

  13. BillB – New Hampshire is not the easiest place to put up good offensive numbers, especially in the colder early months of the season. According to Dan Szymborski, it’s around 100 (average – weighted figure), but I recall word that it plays better for lefty bats like Eric Thames (Keith Law mentioned it as a reason to discount his numbers from 2010). Hechevarria and D’Arnaud both bat right – don’t know what’s eating Gose, though.

  14. that loss hurt last night. it puts us in last in the american league east. rauch i dont know about this guy if he blows another one frank francisco should replace all though im not really comfortable with him either

  15. It was another disappointing one run loss. The jays don’t have a current lineup that can win many games. There are too many injuries in order to get a true feel of this team.

    the aggressive baserunning is causing too many outs.

    Each Jays game seems to have a player run into an out or get picked off.

    In addition E5 usually makes an error.

    It will get better oce Nix, Hill, & Jose are back.

    Hopefully, Travis Snider comes back soon.

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