I don’t know how anyone could ever claim that pitching duels are boring. Tonight’s blistering pitching pace set by two groundball machines was a nerve racking affair until Tim Hudson took his domination to the other side of the inning with a two run home run in the bottom of the seventh off Ricky Romero.
Despite threatening in the top of the ninth, the Blue Jays couldn’t figure out Hudson nor Braves closer Craig Kimbrel as Toronto fell to Atlanta 2-0.
Anatomy Of A Dominant Performance
Look at all those swinging strikes and in play outs in the bottom right corner of the strike zone. That’s what Tim Hudson’s eight innings of dominance looked like tonight as he kept the Blue Jays off the scoreboard, allowing only two hits and a walk while striking out eight batters.
Hudson threw fifteen swinging strikes, or 16% of his pitches caused whiffs from the Toronto Blue Jays lineup. Nine of those were on his slider, of which the Braves starter threw 22. By mixing that slider in with his sinker, the Blue Jays were made to look absolutely foolish through most of the game.
Most Important Play Of The Game
This shouldn’t take a lot of guess work. Tim Hudson’s seventh inning home run with Diory Hernandez on first base gave the Atlanta Braves a two run lead that the Blue Jays could never equal. His single swing of the bat increased the Braves probability of winning by 34%.
Between that play, his other at bats and his pitching, Hudson increased his team’s probability of winning by 60%.
Biggest Disappointment Of The Game
Corey Patterson at bat which went from back to back failed bunt attempts to a strikeout with two runners on base decreased the probability of the Blue Jays winning by 11%
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.
Mike McCoy’s single at bat of the game pinch hitting for Shawn Camp in the top of the ninth resulted in a walk and the highest amount of win probability added for the Blue Jays in a losing cause.
The Aggravating Thing That John Farrell Did
I’m going to ignore the fact that Ricky Romero had thrown 101 pitches after seven innings when he was pulled from the game. That’s because I’d like to focus my ire on the decision to allow Corey Patterson to bunt with two men on base and none out in the ninth inning when the GODDAMN team needs TWO runs to tie the game! How is giving away an out at this point from the second hitter in the batting order at all justifiable.
The only way a manager can justify it is by admitting that he made a mistake by batting that player second. Otherwise, it makes no sense whatsoever, a successful execution would’ve decreased run expectancy from 1.542 (with runners on first and second with none out) to 1.438 (with runners on second and third with one out) when the team needs it most.
The Statistics You Won’t Believe
Yunel Escobar’s first three at bats resulted in a groundout to Alex Gonzalez, the player he was traded for. During his fourth at bat, he produced a single through second and third base.
Coming into tonight’s game, Atlanta Braves reliever Craig Kimbrel had 55 strikeouts in 36 innings. He faced three batters tonight and struck out all three. And not just any three either: Corey Patterson, Jose Bautista and Adam Lind.
Jose Bautista has only two extra base hits in his last nineteen games.
Tim Hudson threw four pitches to retire the side in third inning.
The Blue Jays grounded out to Alex Gonzalez nine times in total tonight.
Game time: two hours and twenty minutes.
Usually, this is reserved for Blue Jays relievers, but Craig Kimbrel coming into the game with two on and none out and the two, three and four hitter due up for Toronto deserves a special mention. His striking out of all three batters he faced increased his team’s win probability by 27% and can most certainly be considered a shutdown (with an exclamation point).
Carefully Selected Quote Cliche Of The Game
From Baseball Prospectus, tonight I’ll go with:
When it comes to my at-bats, I should have done a better job. He kept us off balance. You’ve just got to tip your cap. We had our chances through this lineup to get a hit. Opportunities are there, but we just haven’t seen them get that hit.
Stray Observations Of The Game
I love Yunel Escobar, but he looked as though he was trying all game to do too much in his return to Atlanta. It didn’t surprise me at all to see his error almost cost the Blue Jays a run, and in some way lead to Tim Hudson’s home run being a two run shot. I liked that Hudson jokingly tossed his rosen bag at Escobar as he passed by in the first inning.
Remember that mystique, dare I say the swagger that Jose Bautista had through the first month or two of the season. It’s not there anymore is it?
If anyone would like to suggest that Ricky Romero doesn’t know how to pitch to the score, I’d like to suggest you let me hurl bricks at you.