Breaking Down the Final Nine, What’s a Game Score, Chat with Ernie

Friday night brought a win for the TinCaps, much needed by a team that had lost four straight. The 5-0 victory over West Michigan was the third shutout the TinCaps have hurled all season. The win for Fort Wayne snapped a five-game winning streak for West Michigan and sent them to their first shutout loss since….May 14 against the TinCaps at Parkview Field.

The star of the show on Friday was undoubtedly Colin Rea, who earned his first win of the year. The righthander, making his sixth start this season, tossed six innings, scattered four hits and struck out four without issuing a walk.

Fort Wayne also made a few roster moves before Friday’s game, sending relievers Matt Stites and Robert Eisenbach to the disabled list. With Eisenbach out of commission, that leaves the TinCaps with an entirely righthanded bullpen, and starter Frank Garces as the only southpaw on the staff. The corresponding moves sent pitchers Chris Haney and James Jones to Fort Wayne. Haney joins the club from Triple-A Tucson. He has also pitched at Advanced-A Lake Elsinore this season. The native Texan was with the TinCaps for three games last year in mid-July. Jones is a first-time TinCap, and he joined the team from Double-A San Antonio. He’d gone 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in six games out of the bullpen for the Missions. Jones pitched two innings in relief of Rea on Friday, allowing a hit and a walk.

In addition to those two moves, outfielder Mykal Stokes was shipped to Triple-A Tucson, leaving the TinCaps down an outfield. Fort Wayne was sent Kyung-Min Na, who was with the team for 15 games earlier this year, hitting .115 in that stint.

So what does this all mean for the TinCaps?

Well, there are nine games to play in the first half, and they’re still in the hunt for the wild card spot in the Eastern Division. Entering Saturday’s action, Fort Wayne trails second place Bowling Green by five games (13.5 GB vs. 8.5 GB). It’ll be extremely difficult and require a significant amount of good fortune, but a first-half playoff birth is still in the cards.

South Bend rolls into town for a three-game series, and the Silver Hawks are just two games back of Bowling Green, which starts a series with Dayton tonight. So, South Bend is definitely going to be hungry for some wins, especially knowing that the Hot Rods have it relatively easier than any other team, taking on last-place Dayton.

As for Na, he’ll have to compete for outfield playing time with Donavan Tate, Kyle Gaedele and Yeison Asencio, who are all regulars. Don’t forget that Mike Gallic, who is still with the team, despite being in the disabled list, is trying to work his way back from injury, too.

The two relievers give the TinCaps the arms they need in the bullpen to finish out the first half. Innings have already been limited by a move to the six-man rotation, and Fort Wayne needed that start from Rea on Friday night. Adys Portillo had gone just one inning the day before, and prior to that, Frank Garces had gone 4 2/3. The bullpen needed a little rest,and both Rea and Jones delivered.

This is the final nine-game stretch for the first half. It starts tonight at 7:05 at Parkview Field. Radio coverage on 1380 ESPN and ESPNFortWayne.com starts at 6:45 and I’m on TV with Kent Hormann at 7:00 on XFINITY Digital Cable Channel 81, if you’re in the area.

In today’s TinCaps report, hear my Friday pregame chat with West Michigan Manager Ernie Young, a former teammate of TinCaps strength and conditioning coach Cliff Bartosh, as Young talks about some of his 2012 All-Stars and his involvement with USA Baseball in the off-season:

WHAT’S A GAME SCORE?

As a broadcaster, there are many elements of the game that require your thorough understanding: the rule book, the unwritten rule book, the idiosyncrasies of each player,  and, more and more, the non-conventional statistical measurements of the game.

Bill James, master sabermetrician, devised a quantitative measure known as “game score” to determine the effectiveness of a pitcher during a ballgame. Here’s the formula:

  1. Start with 50 points.
  2. Add 1 point for each out recorded, so 3 points for every complete inning pitched.
  3. Add 2 points for each inning completed after the 4th.
  4. Add 1 point for each strikeout.
  5. Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed.
  6. Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed.
  7. Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed.
  8. Subtract 1 point for each walk.

There are tons of statistical measurements out there like BsR, BABIP, UZR, VORP, etc. that can be pretty confusing. Game score seems relatively simple, and it’s  a good way to measure a pitcher’s outing rather than just the usual line score, and then, afterward, his win-loss total and ERA.
That said, there can also be debate over how the score measures the effectiveness of a pitcher because of the weight placed on certain statistical categories. Consider Tim Lincecum’s outing in the 2010 NLDS, where he gave up just two hits and struck out 14. That merited a game score of 96. In the 2010 NLDS, Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay threw a no-hitter. Game score:  94. Is a two-hit game better than a no-hitter? You be the judge, but it’s an intriguing comparison, at least.
Baseball America has comprised, by game score, the top 10 starts at each classification of the Minor Leagues for the month of May. Guess who made the list for Low-A…
Adys Portillo. He of three wins and a plus-7.00 ERA in 2011. This year Portillo is a MWL All-Star. “Port”, as he’s known, made the list for his June 9th start against South Bend at Parkview Field, going seven scoreless innings, allowing one hit, striking out six and walking two. Game score: 79.
What do you think of the game score metric?

MUSICAL GUEST

Gavin DeGraw…take it away!

If you’d like to get in touch, you can reach me at Couzens@TinCaps.com or on Twitter @MikeCouzens.

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