Game-Changer: Johnny Damon's Walkoff Single | The Process Report

Game-Changer: Johnny Damon’s Walkoff Single

At this point, we might as well rename this portion of the site “the Johnny Damon play of the game.” For the second time in three days, Damon sent the Rays home with a win on a walk-off hit. It marked the fifth straight game, he provided Tampa Bay with the game-winning hit.  In a random note, he is the first player to accomplish that feat since Troy Glaus did it in six straight games for the Anaheim Angels in 2002, a team with a bench coach named Joe Maddon. R.J. spoke about the events leading up to Damon’s at-bats –including the pinch-hit possibilities — so I’ll pick it up from there.

As outlined in our The Process Versus series, Minnesota Twins left-hander Jose Mijares has been extremely tough on batters of the same hand. After a strikeout and a walk, Mijares faced Damon in a lefty-on-lefty matchup. Throughout his big league career, Damon has been serviceable against lefties with a .282 batting average and .346 on-base percentage.

Mijares works mainly off a fastball/slider combo. Both pitches have been above-average for him in the past. John Damon has always had the ability to handle fastballs, but struggled with sliders in 2010.

In this at-bat, Mijares jumped out to 1-2 lead in the count. In typical Damon fashion, he fouled off two pitches, keeping the at-bat and the inning alive. After taking one slider for a called strike and swinging threw another, Damon got a third slider on the sixth pitch of the plate appearance.

Mijares left his one belt-high on the outside of the plate. With his slap-hit style, Damon pulled the ball down the right field line for the walk-off winner.  The game-tying home run by Ben Zobrist increased the Rays win expectancy by 44.5%. Damon’s game-winner came in just under 35%. That said, the leverage index for final at-bat was a monstrous 6.37!

Once again, thank you Johnny.