Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Remembrance of another unique rout
By Mark Simon
There’s a lot of baseball clutter in this statistician/historian’s brain, and sometimes it can feel like it’s just too much information for the mind to handle.
The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that the last time that both of those teams won games by at least 10 runs in the same day was on July 27, 1985.
That date may not be remembered as one of the best in New York sports history, but it’s one of the most interesting, and the interest lies in the story of the Mets' half of this pair of baseball blowouts.
That day, a 10-year-old boy and his father sat eight or so rows behind the Astros dugout for the doubleheader between the Mets and Houston. By game’s end, the boy was asking his father: How could such a thing have happened?
He wasn’t referring to the Mets fans harsh treatment of the Astros debuting starting pitcher in the nightcap, Charlie Kerfeld, a portly fellow who resembled John Candy, and who would later best be known for giving up Gary Carter’s game-winning hit in Game 5 of the 1986 NLCS. Kerfeld walked seven Mets in 3 1/3 innings and lost Game 2, 7-3.
Nor was he referring to the out-of-town scoreboard, which flashed a score of Yankees 14, Rangers 2 by the end of the night -- a tough defeat for Rangers rookie manager Bobby Valentine, whose team yielded five home runs to the Bronx Bombers.
What the scorebook-touting youngster (the writer of this piece) wanted to know was if he was correct in his calculation that the Mets, in their Game 1, 16-4 rout of the Astros, had scored 16 runs, with all 16 runs being unearned. It was one of the first major statistical discoveries he made in a lifetime filled with many.
I’ve since gotten validation on this note many times from our colleagues at Elias. It’s true every time. That day, still historic 26 years later, was one that would fit last week’s list of unique Mets occurrences.
The short version of how the Mets did this is that the Astros made five errors, including three combined in the seventh and eighth innings, during which the Mets scored six runs apiece. The big hits included a three-run home run by ex-Astros third baseman Ray Knight and a pair of RBI doubles by Carter.
How often does a team score 16 runs, all unearned? Turns out it’s equally as difficult as going 299 games without a grand slam, and then hitting two in the same game, which the 2011 Mets did on Tuesday night. Both have happened just once in major league history.
Mark Simon is ESPN's Baseball Research Specialist, who oversees baseball content for the Stats & Information Group. He writes about Mets history each week in his "Remember When We Met" posts.