Strike One -- What's In That Box Dept.
Here at Three Strikes, we've seen a few epic box score lines in our day. We've even used the term, "Box Score Line of the Century" to describe a couple of them. We know now we got a little carried away.
And why do we know that now? Because Monday in Kansas City, Royals reliever Vin Mazzaro gave us the REAL box score line of the century.
And possibly not just of this century.
Mazzaro arrived on the scene of Monday's big Royals-Indians showdown in the third inning, because of an injury to Royals starter Kyle Davies. Seven outs later, he was on his way to beautiful downtown Omaha.
And to the history books.
If you haven't seen this line, please be seated and dispose of all sharp objects first. OK, ready? Here it comes:
2 1/3 IP, 11 H, 14 R, 14 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 1 HR, 77 pitches to get 7 outs.
Fortunately, Mazzaro retired four of the first six hitters he faced. Unfortunately, he then retired only three of the last 16.
Now here's what you really need to know:
• How hard is it to give up 14 runs in 2 1/3 innings? Mazzaro was the first pitcher since 1900 to figure out a way to allow 14 in an outing shorter than three innings, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. That's how hard. In other words, before Monday, the correct answer seemed like it was probably "impossible."
• How hard is it to give up 14 runs in relief no matter how long a guy sticks around? Mazzaro was the first reliever to do that since Tommy Warren gave up 15 (11 earned) for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 30, 1944.
• How hard is it to give up 14 EARNED runs in relief? Mazzaro was the first to accomplish that funky trick since Les McCrabb did it for the Philadelphia A's on April 16, 1942 -- and just the fifth reliever to do it in the live-ball era, according to baseball-reference.com. (Incidentally, no truth to the rumor tweeted by loyal reader Bob Fescoe on Monday that McCrabb is a new sandwich at McDonald's.)
• Ah, but we're not through. How hard is it to give up 14 earned runs whether you're starting, relieving or just having a rough day on your PlayStation? Mazzaro was only the third pitcher of any size or shape to pull that off since 1947. The others were two starting pitchers: Oakland's Mike Oquist on Aug. 3, 1998, and Milwaukee's Bill Travers on Aug. 14, 1977.
• Then again, you don't see many relief pitchers give up double digits in runs, period. Last to do that? Another Royal, naturally: Jimmy Gobble, on July 21, 2008.
• Last reliever to give up more than 10 earned runs? That would be the legendary Mel Rojas (11) on April 29, 1999. So that makes Rojas and Mazzaro the only relievers to allow more than 10 in the last quarter-century.
• Another Vin Mazzaro claim to fame: He gave up 10 runs just in one inning (the fourth). Last reliever to do that, according to the Elias Sports Bureau: That would also be the aforementioned Jimmy Gobble, on July 21, 2008.
• And one more nugget that puts all this in perspective, courtesy of Rob "Stats" Guerrera, of Mike and Mike production fame: Vin Mazzaro gave up 14 earned runs in 2 1/3 innings. Another reliever you might have heard of, some guy named Mariano Rivera, has had six full SEASONS in which he hasn't given up 14 earned runs (including the last three in a row). And he faced at least 230 hitters in every one of those seasons. Gulp.
So here's to Vin Mazzaro, who took one for the team, wound up with a box score line for the ages and got us through 600 words of this blog. Vin, we'll never forget you. We promise.
Strike Two -- Pitching In Dept.
While all those Indians were crossing home plate, we started getting tweets Monday night asking us if we were watching another wacky game that was unfolding in Queens. Thanks for the tip.
Some stuff went on in the extra innings of Monday's Mets-Marlins game that you sure don't see every day, friends. Take a look.
• The game-winning run was driven in by Marlins reliever Burke Badenhop who was allowed to hit with the go-ahead run in scoring position in the 11th inning even though he was 1-for-23, with 12 strikeouts, in his stellar offensive career at the time. According to Elias, Badenhop was just the second pitcher in the last 15 years to come to the plate with a career average below .100 and get a game-winning hit in extra innings. The other: The previously hitless Randy Keisler, for the Reds, on May 24, 2005.
• But after Badenhop's big moment at the dish, we had more offensive heroics from a guy who normally pitches for a living. That would be Mets pitcher Jonathon Niese, who cranked a pinch-hit triple in the bottom of the 11th. After way too much research on this, we determined he was just the second Mets pitcher ever to bop a pinch-hit triple. The other: Dwight Gooden, off Richie Lewis, on Oct. 3, 1993.
• Then again, you don't see a whole lot of pinch-hit triples by pitchers for any team. Besides Niese and Gooden, we found only four other pitchers who hit one in the entire DH era (39 seasons). Here's that list:
Jason Marquis, off Noah Lowry, on May 24, 2006
Dontrelle Willis, off Esteban Loaiza, on June 17, 2004
Bryan Hickerson, off Tony Armas Jr., on Aug. 18, 1995
Dan Schatzeder, off Steve Trout, on April 17, 1986
• And how many other pitchers have had an EXTRA-INNING pinch-hit triple in the DH era? That would be precisely zero. If you can find the last pitcher to hit one of those, tweet it to @jaysonst. Operators are always standing by.
Strike Three -- More Useless Tidbits
• Back to that Royals-Indians classic. The Indians scored 19 runs in that game -- even though their starting No. 3 and No. 4 hitters, Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Santana, drove in NONE of them. Last time that happened, according to Elias: How 'bout 1994, when the Dodgers (with Delino DeShields and Mike Piazza) did it on April 17, and the Reds (with Reggie Sanders and Kevin Mitchell) did it 11 days later -- both against the Pirates.
• The Indians scored 19 runs for their starting pitcher, Josh Tomlin, just in the first five innings Monday night. The Giants have scored only 15 for Madison Bumgarner all season -- in eight starts. And the Pirates have scored 14 for Paul Maholm -- in nine starts.
• Speaking of run support, Monday marked the first time Cliff Lee had thrown a pitch after his team had scored a run in over a month -- since April 14. The only two starts in between in which the Phillies technically scored for him, they did it in innings where they pinch-hit for him. So in between runs, he pitched 34 consecutive innings, faced 147 hitters and threw 530 pitches with nothing but zeroes on the scoreboard. Uh, is this what he signed up for?
• The Yankees have lost six games in a row for the first time since 2007. In between those streaks, the other four AL East teams lost at least six in a row 22 times -- or 23, if you count a 13-gamer by the Orioles in 2009 as doing it twice.
• Meanwhile, the Twins have lost nine in a row for the first time since 1998. In between their streaks, the Royals have lost at least nine in a row nine times -- or 10, if you count their 19-game cliff dive in 2005 twice.
• Finally, as loyal reader (and editor) Marty Bernoski reports, Aroldis Chapman headed for the disabled list just in time. Over his last three outings, he managed to allow eight runs -- and get one out. Hard to do, friends!