Indians Defense Stifles Blue Jays

Even if the Toronto Blue Jays had managed to overcome a 6-0 deficit after the fifth inning, it’s unlikely that they would’ve stolen headlines away from news that the Blue Jays were close (like Friday close) to calling up top prospect Brett Lawrie.

The team made it easy for the Lawrie news to overshadow them, by getting absolutely shut down by Mitch Talbot and his soldiers of defense. Yeah, it was that kind of night. Despite dragging things out so as to bring the tying run to the on deck circle, the Blue Jays lost 6-3 to the Indians.

Anatomy Of A Lefty Heavy Lineup

There were only two right handed batters in Cleveland’s lineup tonight and they were in the seventh and eighth spot in the order. This is what a right handed pitcher’s strike zone plot will look like when this happens:

Ignore the splitter (which was more likely a regular four seam fastball or a weird attempt at a changeup) and the curve balls (which were likely just sliders that dropped a bit more). Morrow threw a fastball and slider combination throughout his five innings of work, which added up to 95 pitches: 62 for strikes and 33 for balls. That’s a strike rate of 65.3%. Before tonight’s game, Morrow’s strike rate was 64.2%.

Before I looked at those numbers I wondered if Morrow was attempting to pitch more to contact tonight and we were seeing the awful results. But the truth of the matter was that the awful results (nine hits, two balls) were likely a combination of his slider not dropping as much or moving away from the hitters, the lefty heavy lineup and some poor defense.

Morrow’s career xFIP against left handed batters is 4.55, against righties it’s only 3.51.

Most Important Play Of The Game

In the second inning with the Cleveland Indians already up 1-0 over the Blue Jays, Carlos Santana was on second base when Grady Sizemore hit a double to center field with none out. The play increased the Indians chances of winning by 9.5%, as the team would go on to collect a total of seven extra base hits.

Biggest Disappointment Of The Game

Way back in the first inning, with two runners on base and only one out, Juan Rivera grounded into a double play to end the inning and decrease the Blue Jays chances of winning by 8.5%

The Shamsky Award

Named after Art Shamsky, who single handedly increased the Cincinnati Reds’ chances of winning by 150.3% in a losing effort during a game in 1966, The Shamsky Award is given to the player on the losing team who contributes the most to them winning.

Yunel Escobar went two for two tonight, which might seem strange for an uninjured starter, until you see that he also walked three times, getting on base five out of five times, and hitting a home run while doing so. Escobar did his best tonight to increase the Blue Jays probability of winning by 9%.

The Aggravating Thing That John Farrell Did

Prior to tonight’s game, Blue Jays manager John Farrell spoke to reporters about the importance of pitching wins as a statistic. He then suggested that WHIP was the most important metric to consider for pitchers. It’s not, and I mocked the idea on Twitter. Several people asked what a better stat for pitchers is. This remains the most informative, irreverent and hilarious explanation around:

The Statistics You Won’t Believe

In his last start before tonight Cleveland Indians pitcher Mitch Talbot faced 21 batters over three innings allowing eight earned runs on twelve hits and two walks. Tonight’s outing was a little bit more successful.

In his last start before tonight Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Brandon Morrow faced 28 batters over seven innings allowing one run on four hits and two walks. Tonight’s outing was a little bit less successful.

Shutdowns/Meltdowns

Despite the Jays use of Luis Perez, Octavio Dotel and Frank Francisco tonight, it’s kind of hard to find the leverage necessary while losing by four and six runs to gain shutdowns or meltdowns.

Carefully Selected Quote Cliche Of The Game

From Baseball Prospectus, tonight I’ll go with:

I wasn’t making my pitches. I wasn’t hitting my spots. It was almost like even if I was, they were still going to find a hole. That’s baseball. You get days where you nub three or four and they go for hits. I didn’t try to walk anybody and when I got behind in the count I still pitched my game.

Stray Observations Of The Game

Jose Bautista’s path to the ball and hesitancy at the wall on Michael Brantley’s third inning triple was positively Pattersonesque, and yet I heard and read not even a fraction of the criticism.

I wrote that above thought before Corey Patterson’s horrible run to a fly in the top of the sixth where he missed the ball completely. I may have exaggerated Bautista’s gaffe.

Comparing this and J.P. Arencibia’s failed tag at the plate in the fifth to Jack Hannahan’s defensive spectacle at third base is exactly why WHIP, ERA and pitching wins are hard to take seriously. There are just so many aspects of a baseball game out of the pitcher’s hands.

The first time I heard it I thought I imagined it, but the second time I was positive that Buck Martinez referred to the Cleveland Indians as the injuns. I’m pretty sure that’s not cool.

Listening to Pat Tabler talk about pitching to contact as a good thing while Brandon Morrow was seemingly serving up batting practice may actually be more ignorant than Martinez using the term injuns.

Yunel Escobar is quickly going from my favourite Blue Jays regular to becoming my favourite player in baseball.

In the bottom of the ninth with two out, Manny Acta took out Tony Sipp, so that Chris Perez could face Jose Bautista. All I could do was wonder what would’ve been faster: Bringing in Perez to face Bautista or letting Sipp walk him to get Rivera out.