You know the old saying, ‘Solo homers don’t hurt you” does not apply tonight, not when you give up three of them.Justin Verlander, https://www.sentinel-standard.com/story/sports/2012/06/30/verlander-allows-3-home-runs/63575784007/
What? A game on Monday? WTF? (Lest you think me crude, WTF is of course the Williamstown Theatre Festival here in Williamstown, MA. They’re always dark on Monday nights.)
What I’ve Been Doing
From 2018-2022, the Los Angeles Dodgers led the National League each year in both runs scored and fewest runs allowed.That is an unprecedented run. Only 32 teams have led their league in both categories, and those to have done so consecutively are:
The only other teams to do it this century are the 2001 Mariners and the 2004 Cardinals.
Well, the streak is going to come to an end this year. The Dodgers currently rank second in runs scored, trailing the Braves by 5 runs. Obviously, they could still finish first in runs scored this season. But with two months to go, the Dodgers rank 9th in runs allowed; they trail the league-leading Padres by 72 runs, so catching the eight teams ahead of them is essentially impossible.
But the Braves today stand a chance to be team 33 to lead the league in both categories.; Their runs scored will be uncatchable by anyone but the Dodgers in the two months remaining and they have only given up 14 runs more than the Padres; they can be caught. The performance of the Hammers’ pitching staff has been frankly underrated this season. Sure, we’ve gone weeks with three guys and prayers for four or five first inning runs, but, mirrors or not, the pitching staff, even without Fried and Wright for much of the season is within shouting distance of giving up the fewest runs in the National League.
The Braves have never led the NL in both categories. The Big Three led to an amazing string of fewest runs allowed from 1992-2002, with one more in 2013, but the years with the lead in runs scored never overlapped: 1966, 1973, 1982-83 and 2003.
So what are the Braves chances this year? Without claiming to put a precise probability on it, we can do some math that should give us a good probability. I’m not ready to present that model yet… I’ve been working on it for three days now and I’ve made progress, but it still ain’t done. With any luck, it will be done before the answer is known.
If you don’t know Marathon Man, it’s a pretty good movie. Lawrence Olivier plays Christian Szell, a former Nazi dentist wanted for war crimes. While in NY’s Diamond District (a block from my old office – had many excellent lunches in the now-departed Berger’s Deli seen at the beginning of the clip) a Holocaust survivor begins pointing at him and screaming “Der weiße Engel! Der weiße Engel!” (The White Angel! The White Angel! This was Szell’s nickname at Auschwitz.)
In this game, every announcer and commenter and broadcast personality was screaming “Der japanisch Engel! Der japanisch Engel!” This allows me to make a Chip Caray comment, my first of the year. For the last three years, Chip kept blathering about how we need more interleague play so Braves fans could see Trout. There is no small irony to the fact that the Angels finally come to town and Trout is on the shelf. But all Is forgotten, because Shohei Ohtani is now bigger than Trout.
Ohtani will not take the mound in this series, so instead we finally get to see Chase Silseth, who was given the name Chase by his parents so that they could express their hatred of sculptors: Chase Silseth is an anagram of “Hates Chisels.” He is the first player in MLB history whose name is an anagram of Hates Chisels.
Ohtani was hit by a pitch, intentionally walked and singled before being retired on a good leaping grab by Harris at the wall. I’m sure seeing that was worth the hype.
Charlie Morton had a terrible first inning which very fortunately yielded only one run for the Angels, a solo homer by Luis Rengifo leading off. If I told you a Venezuelan player was going to hit a leadoff homer, I’m guessing that’s not who you’d have picked. Charlie pitched very well after the first, but was be-angelled by two more solo homers from Randal Grichuk and Chad Wallach. As that great philosopher Justin Verlander opined a decade or so ago, that can get you beat.
And it did. The Braves had a solo homer of their own from Matt Olson, but had another few potential rallies snuffed out from a lack of timely hitting. Ohtani’s flyout in the 9th created the opportunity for an unecessary insurance run. Three solo homers beat one. That’s advanced math.
A.J. Minter came back and pitched well. Pierce Johnson got himself in a load of trouble with a series of 55 foot pitches but managed to wiggle out of trouble. Daysbel Hernandez got into trouble and gave up another run, raising his ERA to 7.36 even though he looks like he has good stuff.
Go get ’em tomorrow. J won’t say this game was as bad as the unanesthetized root canal displayed above, but Dustin Hoffman eventually managed to defeat Der weiße Engel, and he had no curve ball at all.