20 May 2009

Game 41 Unfair Win Shares

Casey Blake hit a huge three pointer late, and the Mets had a couple of three point tries of their own blocked by Belisario and Wade. Broxton's steal of the in-bounds pass in the waning moments of the game sealed the two point win.

I guess I'm still in basketball mode after last night's thrilling two point Laker victory in game one of the Western Conference Finals, or the WesConFin, as I like to call it, as if it was Wisconsin's messed up cousin. I wonder if the Nuggets just blew their best chance to steal a game on the road. I could see them folding after game 1, but I could also see them coming back even harder in game 2. Will the Lakers be ready?

Back to the Dodgers: Blake and Billingsley are the standouts from last night's game. Billingsley, in particular, I was impressed by, because he just wasn't impressive, not early on. This isn't something new, either. It's been a while since Billingsley has had his really great stuff. Every start this past month when I've watched him it seems like he's struggling, fighting it, walking too many hitters. He's walked at least 4 in every start in May. He walked 5 yesterday. And yet, every time Billingsley walks off that mound, he's worthy of an ovation. He always goes at least six innings. He never gives up more than 3 runs. He is an ace. If he is not an ace, there is no ace.

Billingsley has an on-base percentage of 0.400. That doesn't mean much, but it's a fun fact anyway. He was the main part of the Dodger offense last night, at least until Blake turned the game around. That double he hit in the fourth inning was amazing. When he hit it, I thought it was a single. A nice, solid, single. So I thought when he took my eyes off of it to follow the action in the Laker game. But then I looked back, and saw the ball had reached the wall, and Blake was coming around to score, and I realized he actually crushed that thing. That was amazing. If that ball was an NBA Player Billingsley would have been assessed a flagrant 2. That was quite a hit for a pitcher.

It's no surprise when Blake crushes one, especially if he gets a dog meat pitch. Dog meat as in meat for dogs to eat, not meat made out of a dog. Not that Blake is a dog, either. Aw, it's just an expression. That pitch was a nice juicy can of spam out over the plate. Probably Maine shouldn't have been in the game at that point. He had spam written all over him. He sure served it up. But Blake still had to hit it.

Some home runs are meaningless, solo-jacks in a game that is already decided, or even a grand slam in a game that is long since gone, such as the one Mota gave up last Sunday. Some home runs are important --- solid contributions to the effort, such as Blake's solo shot that started the scoring against Volstad last weekend and earned him his first unfair win share. And then there are a few home runs that are essential. They turn the game around. They show the true power and majesty of the home run. These are the home runs that give us hope when the game is nearly gone. These are the home runs that give us dread when the lead is small and the opposing slugger comes up with runners on. One swing and the game is changed. A rearrangement. The Mets had a chance at one in the seventh and eighth innings last night, and came up short. Casey Blake had his chance, and he hit the spicy ham out of it.

Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )

Billingsley -- 1
Blake -- 2

Unfair Loss Shares ( Mets )

Martinez -- 1
Maine -- 2

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