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Home » July 2008 Game CommentsJuly 2008 » Kyūen [球宴]

Kyūen [球宴]

Game 92: July 7, 2008
Twins 0 L: Brian Bass (3-3) 50-39, 1 game losing streak
WinRed Sox 1 W: Hideki Okajima (2-2)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (26)
53-39, 1 game winning streak
Highlights: Daisuke Matsuzaka wasn’t part of the decision last night, nor will he be in next week’s All-Star Game, which is called kyūen in his native language (the first character kyū means ball and the second en stands for party or celebration). But last night he proved he is capable of shutdown stuff despite a rough first inning.

In the first inning Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed three Js, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Jason Kubel, to load the bases after securing two quick outs. It had all the makings of one of those outings that Jerry Remy grouses about: walks galore thanks to Matsuzaka’s nibbling. Matsuzaka induced a ground ball out off the bat of Delmon Young to himself to end the inning.

From that point on Matsuzaka went right after batters. John Farrell probably worked his magic in between frames to motivate his charge to be aggressive on the mound. The result was seven and one-third innings of fine pitching supported by upper-echelon defense and a return to form by the relief tandem of Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon.

Julio Lugo contributed by his diving trap of Mauer’s grounder up the middle and accurate throw to Kevin Youkilis for the last out of the third. In the seventh Youkilis turned in a gem of his own by snagging a liner off Brian Buscher and tagging Young off first for a well-timed unassisted double play; Young was the first leadoff batter to get on base for the Twins.

Red Sox baserunners were as scarce as they were for the visiting team, however. Twins starter Scott Baker twirled seven scoreless frames until he yielded to reliever Brian Bass.

Dustin Pedroia played a familiar bass line with his leadoff fly ball to left field that clanged just right of the pole and a few feet below the top of the wall. Pedroia crossed the dish for Boston’s sole run on Manny Ramirez’s sharp grounder to the opposite field. Coming through in such a high leverage situation must have tacked on a few decimals to Ramirez’s Win Probability Added (WPA).

Fangraphs calculates WPA so that each player has a positive and negative number that is combined for net wins contributed to the team. Four Red Sox players were elected by fans to the represent their team in the All-Star Game and three more were voted in by players, managers, and coaches. Here there are with their respective WPA thus far:

  • David Ortiz: 4.61 - 4.63 = -0.02
  • Dustin Pedroia: 8.16 - 6.37 = 1.78
  • Manny Ramirez: 9.07 - 5.88 = 3.19
  • Kevin Youkilis: 7.24 - 6.34 = 0.90
  • J.D. Drew: 6.50 - 5.28 = 1.22
  • Jonathan Papelbon: 4.68 - 4.03 = .65
  • Jason Varitek: 4.34 - 5.77 = -1.43

Admittedly this statistic does not calculate how a catcher may or may not improve a pitcher, one of the oft-cited intangibles that set Jason Varitek apart from other backstops. That and the fact that he is not A.J. Pierzynski.

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