Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Movin' On Up
2008-07-23 16:47
by Cliff Corcoran

The Yankees opened the second-half of the 2008 season by sweeping the Oakland A's, passing them in the Wild Card standings as a result. With their 5-1 win over the Twins this afternoon, they've swept Minnesota and passed them in the Wild Card standings as well.

Today's game was scoreless through four and a half innings and none of the five baserunners to that point got past first base. Robinson Cano became the first man to reach second in the bottom of the fifth when he and Melky Cabrera both singled with one out. Jose Molina then hit into what looked like an inning-ending double play ball to third base, but second baseman Alexi Casilla thought there already were two outs in the inning and, rather than making the pivot to double up the sluggish Molina, took Brendan Harris's throw while running across the bag and started to head into the dugout. Casilla realized his mistake when Twins starter Glen Perkins started cursing him out through clenched teeth, but it was too late; The Yankees had an extra out and they made the most of it when Justin Christian, starting against the lefty Perkins, shot a low and inside pitch down the third base line for a two-run double into the left-field coerner that plated Molina all the way from first base.

That was all Mike Mussina needed as he turned in his best start of the season by pitching eight shutout innings while striking out seven and allowing just six baserunners (all on hits). The Yankees added a three-spot against Perkins in the sixth and LaTroy Hawkins coughed one up while attempting to wrap things up in the ninth ("forcing" Joe Girardi to call in Mariano Rivera for the final out).

The Yanks have scored 6.3 runs per game since the break while allowing just two runs per game. They are now a game ahead of the Twins, four ahead of the A's, and are headed to Boston for a three-game series trailing the Red Sox for the Wild Card lead by just three games (with the division-leading Rays just another half game ahead of them).

2008-07-23 19:13:03
1.   JL25and3
I couldn't see the left-field line from where I was sitting. Was there a good reason that Meacham was waving Molina around, or was it just that the windmill strategy happened to work this time?

Cliff - the throw was from Brendan Harris, not Buscher.

2008-07-23 19:17:51
2.   Cliff Corcoran
1 D'oh, I got the position right, but the lineup wrong. Thanks.

The ball rolled all the way into the corner before kicking out to Young, but I'd say it was the windmill strategy working rather than it being a good send.

2008-07-23 19:30:53
3.   monkeypants
1 2 This raises an interesting question I have been pondering. Is it actually worth it to "windmill" more runners since very often they score anyway even if the throw actually beats the runner by a wide margin (throw is off line, catcher drops the ball, etc).

We tend to remember all of the times that runners are caught, especially when it is not a close play. There must be a way to estimate the number of times when forcing the action pays off, regardless of the reason. There must be a tipping point where the odds of a runner scoring "by accident" outweigh the odds of him getting called out even if the throw arrives in plenty of time.

2008-07-23 19:47:04
4.   cult of basebaal
2008-07-23 19:47:21
5.   Cliff Corcoran
3 From Friend of the Blog Steven Goldman and the BP statmen:

2008-07-23 19:47:34
6.   cult of basebaal
1 lucky, very, VERY lucky!
2008-07-23 19:53:36
7.   cult of basebaal
5 i wasn't all that impressed with that goldman piece. what matter is the rate, rather than the counting.
2008-07-23 19:54:48
8.   monkeypants
5 Thanks, but that only tells half the story--how many runners are thrown out (for the Yanks: a lot). Now, we need to figure out 1. how many aggressive plays resulted in runs, 2. if that the "extra" runs scored are more than the outs, and 3. if the the balance, even if positive, is worth the risk of being aggressive.

That is, let's say that aggressive running causes 13 runners to get thrown out (according to Goldman, that's the Yankees total), but Meacham's windmill also results in (say) 20 runners scoring when they shouldn't. That would be a net 7 run advantage for being aggressive.

But, if the same 33 runners stayed put on third base, presumably some number would score anyway on subsequent plays (hits, sac flies, etc.). So, the real question would be at what point does windmilling runners pay off (if it ever does)?

2008-07-23 20:49:31
9.   JL25and3
2 , 6 Thanks. That's what I figured.

Even with Meacham, I was pretty shocked to see Molina rounding third.

Alexi Casilla, on the other hand, might not be able to count to two, but he can fly.

2008-07-24 06:22:18
10.   rbj
On BBTN they showed Perkins failing to cover first on a sure DP, so he shouldn't be chewing anyone out.

Anyone else think Gardenhire's going to have INF practice today? Sloppy series by the Twins, but I'll take it.

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