Red Sox-Yankees: An Unexpected, Unexciting Game

What makes a game exciting? We all know it when we see it: lead changes, a big come back, extra innings, a lot of baserunners. However, the way in which all these things happen matter. On April 21st, there was a particularly interesting game, although it turned out to be less exciting than you’d expect at first glance.

The game was Yankees at Red Sox. It involved a huge comeback by the Yankees over a pivotal two innings. Down 9-0 in the 6th, and 9-1 in the 7th, the Yankees were completely out of the game. And then, over the course of 13 batters, they scored 10 runs to take the lead. Over the next 11 batters they piled on 5 more runs and put the game out of reach. Here’s a chart of their Win Expectancy:

Yankees Win Expectancy

What’s stunning about this chart is not necessarily that it happened, but that it happened so quickly. The Yankees did have about  1-in-250 chance of winning this game even at their lowest Win Expectancy. Given those odds, a comeback like this is bound to occur at least a few times a season. However, looking at the chart, it’s clear that the Yankees began to dominate this game extremely quickly. They went from a 250-to-1 to win, to a 90-to-1 to lose over the course of just 27 plays (including 4 Red Sox hitters). There were 98 plays in this game and the entire game was decided in less than one-third of them.

Anyone watching the game will tell you that it happened even quicker than that. The game was nationally televised and Fox cut away for Philip Humber‘s perfect game. They only showed Humber record two outs in the 9th, give a quick on-field interview and by the time Fox cut back to Fenway, Mark Teixeria was hitting a homerun over the wall in left to make it 9-8.

What does EGI say about this game? Well it didn’t crack the top 10 for the week. In fact it only scored 24.35, which put it in the bottom quartile for the week, and for the season. The reason for this is the chart above. Once the Red Sox went up 5-0 in the 2nd on a Dustin Pedroia single, the game was nearly done (statistically). RBIs by Darnell McDonald and Mike Aviles in the 3rd barely register. A Cody Ross 2-run HR in the 5th removes even more drama. Teixeria homered in the 6th to make it 9-1, but down by that many runs, it felt like a meaningless run. Once the Yankees took their big lead, both teams were exhausted. The Red Sox only had 3 baserunners in the 7th, 8th, and 9th combined which was not enough to come close to triggering any excitement. Anyone watching the game will tell you the same thing. Outside of the 7th inning and the beginning of the 8th, there wasn’t a lot to retain interest in this game. Yankee fans will tell you otherwise, and Red Sox fans will bemoan the loss for at least a few years, but to the independent baseball observer, this wasn’t a must see game.

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