Game 5: Astros 4, at Cubs 3

If you had told me the Astros would be 2-3 after 5 games on the road, I would have said fine. If they can split the next two with the Cubs, they’ll be 3-4 for the home opener. Nothing wrong with that, really.

I was at work today and followed the game at MLB.com, which has revised its Gameday Web site for 2008. I’m not too thrilled with the changes, just because I’m constantly flipping the screen up and down searching for information I want. I also had FanGraphs.com up, and it’s sort of mesmerizing. (And I was doing some work.) FanGraphs updates each team’s chances of winning after each at-bat (based on each situation’s historical outcomes) and plots the numbers on an inning graph.

Hence you learn that J.R. Towles’ 2-run homer in the 4th inning increased the Astros’ chances of winning from 0.467 to 0.694. That’s a 227-point swing. Not the biggest hit of the game, though. That was Miguel Tejada’s triple in the 8th that scored Berkman to break a 2-2 tie, a 297-point swing. Fascinating site.

The other thing worth noting is Jose Valverde’s save. He gave up a homer to Mark DeRosa but closed the deal. If you’re gauging his effectiveness, the homer’s irrelevant. At the start of the inning, the Cubs had a 0.067 chance to win the game. At the end, that was reduced to zero. No matter how you look at it, it’s 67 win points for Valverde.

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