Game Thirty-Eight: Blue Jays 3, Indians 0 (10)

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via www.fangraphs.com

Highest WPA Lowest WPA
Cliff Lee .706 Rafael Betancourt -.456
Unassisted Triple Play .185 Kelly Shoppach -.149
Asdrubal Cabrera -.127

99 years ago, Cleveland shortstop Neal Ball made the first unassisted triple play in AL history. Bill Wambsganss made the second one during the 1920 World Series. And tonight Asdrubal Cabrera made just the 14th unassisted triple play (including postseason) in MLB history. Because so much has to go right, it's an extremely rare play. But everything game together tonight. As mentioned above, the Blue Jays were desperate to score a run, so they put the runners in motion with nobody out. If Asdrubal Cabrera wasn't covering second, Lyle Overbay's line drive would have scored a run, and might have lead to a big inning. But because everything fell into place, Cabrera was in the perfect position to catch the sinking liner, though it wasn't a routine catch. But after he got up with the ball, all that remained was to tag second (to double up Kevin Mench, who took off for third) and tag Marco Scutaro (to double up Marco Scutaro, who had just arrived from first).

And the pitcher who watched Cabrera make three outs behind him? Cliff Lee, who saw his magical start to the 2008 season continue. Even with his Nintendoesque pitching stats, maintaining an ERA under 1.00 requires at least some good fortune. Besides the historic triple play, Franklin Gutierrez made a game-saving diving grab in the ninth to assure Lee of at least a no-decision. But still, Lee threw what normally would have been a shutout, striking out five, walking two, and allowing seven hits in nine innings of work. He wasn't on the top of his game; he had to work himself out of several jams, which in my mind was impressive than his first couple dominant outings. He's now pitching unpredictably, that is, using any of his pitches in any count. Lee's hot streak will inevitably end, but when it does, I don't think this new Lee will entirely disappear.

But despite the rare play and almost as rare pitching streak, Toronto finally broke through and won the game in the tenth. The Jays had had opportunities all game long, but finally capitalized off Rafael Betancourt. Two singles to open the game set the inning up; the second hit Betancourt flush just above his left elbow. After a sacrifice, leading to a intentional walk, Toronto scored the game's first run with a no-doubter sacrifice fly. The game was put away by Aaron Hill's two-run single.

 

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