Turning Points: Alonso stays hot, powers A's

Turning Points: Alonso stays hot, powers A's

Every game has a turning point, where one team takes a big leap toward victory, whether it's a towering home run, a squeeze bunt, a bases-loaded strikeout or a run-saving catch.

Thanks to a metric called win expectancy, we can attach numbers to these swings in fortune. Win expectancy, expressed as a percentage, shows a team's chances of victory at a particular point in time. This is based on historical data showing how clubs have fared in different situations, based on factors such as the score, the inning, how many outs there are and which bases are occupied.

Using win expectancy as a guide, here is a look at three plays that served as turning points in Saturday's games:

Alonso homers to pull A's within one of Tigers
Game: Tigers at A's

Situation: With Oakland down, 5-2, in the sixth inning, Yonder Alonso stepped to the plate with a runner on first and two outs against Detroit starter Jordan Zimmermann.

Result: Alonso drove a 2-1 fastball from Zimmermann over the right-center-field wall for his second homer of the game, this one cutting the A's deficit to one in an eventual 6-5 win.

Win expectancy for A's: +19.6 percentage points (11.8% to 31.4%)

Facts to know:
• Alonso's home run was his eighth of the season, coming in his 85th at-bat. In 2016, Alonso hit seven home runs in 482 at-bats. His next home run this season would tie a career high; he hit nine in 549 at-bats in 2012 with the Padres.

• According to Statcast™, each of Alonso's eight homers this season have been hit with an exit velocity of at least 103.1 mph. Both of his home runs Saturday had exit velocities greater than 105 mph (105.1 mph on his fourth-inning blast, and 105.5 mph on his sixth-inning shot).

They said it: A's starter Jesse Hahn on Alonso: "He's unbelievable. He's one of the hottest bats in baseball right now, in my opinion. He needs to stay right there, because he's doing a lot of big things for us."

Pedroia's bases-clearing double

Pedroia's bases-clearing double keys big inning for Red Sox
Game: Red Sox at Twins

Situation: With the bases loaded and two outs in the second, Pedroia had a chance to pad a 1-0 Boston lead against Twins starter Nick Tepesch.

Result: Pedroia laced an 0-1 slider from Tepesch into the left-center-field gap for a double, clearing the bases and widening the Red Sox lead. Boston scored eight times in the frame en route to an 11-1 victory at Target Field.

Win expectancy for Red Sox: +21.0 percentage points (62.3% to 83.3%)

Facts to know:
• Pedroia's average exit velocity is down 3 mph from last season, from 89.2 mph to 86.2 mph so far in 2017, according to Statcast™. But his three-run double on Saturday left the bat at 98.5 mph, his hardest-hit ball since April 29, when he hit a 100.4-mph single against the Cubs.

• Pedroia's double was only his second hit against a slider this season -- the other was a single against the Tigers' Michael Fulmer on April 7. Entering Saturday's game, Pedroia had seen 52 sliders, putting seven in play, but had managed one hit against the pitch. He hit .308 against sliders last season.

They said it: Chris Young (two homers on Saturday) on Boston's eight-run second inning: "That was great. We had plenty of days like this last year, and it's still early in the season. The offense is still capable of having days like that."

Santana's go-ahead homer

Santana takes Herrera deep to give Tribe a ninth-inning lead in Kansas City
Game: Indians at Royals

Situation: Carlos Santana came to the plate with two outs and nobody on in the top of the ninth and the game tied at 1. He faced flamethrowing Royals closer Kelvin Herrera.

Result: On a 2-0 count, Santana belted a 98-mph fastball from Herrera for a solo homer to right-center field, putting Cleveland ahead, 2-1. Francisco Lindor followed with a solo shot of his own, and the Indians won, 3-1.

Win expectancy for Indians: +40.8 percentage points (39.2% to 80.0%)

Facts to know:
• Before his home run Saturday, Santana was 0-for-14 with seven strikeouts in his career against Herrera. He also hadn't homered since April 15 (a span of 17 games).

• The exit velocity on the 412-foot blast was 106.5 mph, per Statcast™, the hardest-hit ball against Herrera this season. It was Santana's eighth career go-ahead home run in the ninth inning or later.

They said it: Indians manager Terry Francona on Santana: "The one thing with velocity, he can hit anybody's velocity."

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.