Sunday, September 16, 2007

If not for bad luck, they'd have no luck at all

I want to look at games where a pitcher for a team gave up zero earned runs but a bunch (sorry to get all scientific there) of unearned runs. Specifically, the games with the most unearned runs with no earned runs. Conveniently, there's only been nine games (since 1957) where the starter had eight or more unearned runs without any earned runs. Let's look at those nine.

First up, the eight unearned runs appearances
  • August 3, 1991 - Bill Wegman for Milwaukee pitching against Texas. Three errors within the first four batters of the game followed by a rocky first inning gave him a final line of 0.2 IP, 5 H, 8 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 0 HR.
  • October 7, 2001 - Eric Knott for Arizona pitching at Milwaukee. Everything was going fine until the fourth inning when two ill-timed errors coupled with a run of hits and a home run off a reliever, ensuring Knott's final line read 3.2 IP, 7 H, 8 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 0 HR.
  • June 1, 2002 - Todd Ritchie pitching for Chicago (AL) against Cleveland. The fifth inning went as follows: F8, ROE5, 2B, K, BB, 1B, BB, 1B, FC/E4 (no out), HR, F9. Ritchie wound up with a cool 5.0 IP, 4 H, 8 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 HR.
  • May 2, 2004 - Horacio Ramirez pitching for Atlanta at Colorado. Ramirez managed to be given unearned runs in three different innings as his defense melted down behind him. The lowlights: an E6 on a caught stealing in the first, setting up a throwing error by the second baseman leading to the first three unearned runs. An E5 allowing the batter to reach and a runner to reach second, followed by a walk, a balk, a sac fly, and a single, for three more unearned runs. Finally in the fourth two errors by the third baseman after Ramirez had been pulled allowed the two runners belonging to the unfortunate pitcher to score. 3.1 IP, 5 H, 8 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 0 HR.
Next up, the nine unearned run games:
  • July 14, 1957 (game 2) - Dean Stone in relief for Boston at Cleveland. Four hits and five walks artfully arranged around three errors in the eighth sank Stone. 2.0 IP, 4 H, 9 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 2 K, 0 HR.
  • May 8, 1976 (game 2) - Luis Tiant for Boston against Texas. An error on a grounder to short in between a strikeout and a pop fly meant the second inning should have ended, but the Rangers didn't let their second chance go, socking two singles, two doubles, a triple and a home run off El Tiante before an insult-to-injury error by the third baseman allowed the final unearned run of the inning to score. 1.2 IP, 6 H, 9 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 1 HR.
  • May 2, 1994 - Bobby Jones for New York (NL) against San Francisco. Here's the third inning: G63, 1B, G13, ROE6, HR, 1B, SB/BB, ROE4, WP, IBB, 3B, 1B, F8. Blech. 2.2 IP, 7 H, 9 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 1 HR.
  • July 3, 2002 - Chris Reitsma for Cincinnati against Houston. An error by Reitsma himself allowing a run should have been the second out, voiding the sacrifice fly immediately following and surely preventing the three-run home run after the sac fly. Of course, five runs wasn't enough, so in the fourth an error by the shortstop and an error on a relay for a double play meant four more unearned runs would eventually score. 4.0 IP, 7 H, 9 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 2 HR.
And the outing that takes the cake:
  • June 6, 1989 - Andy Hawkins on the mound for the home Yankees against the Orioles. In the top of the first, two quick outs were followed up by a ground-rule double and two walks, loading the bases for Jim Traber. Jesse Barfield misplayed a fly ball to deep center, allowing the first three unearned runs off Hawkins to score. Larry Sheets grounded out to second to end the inning. The second inning went quickly, but the third probably gives Hawkins nightmares to this day. Steve Finley led off with a bunt pop-up that was dropped by first baseman Don Mattingly. Cal Ripken Jr. then hit a grounder to Hawkins who promptly threw wildly to second, allowing Finley to reach third. Mickey Tettleton then reached on an E4, putting runners on the corners again and allowing Finley to score. Joe Orsulak then singled to right, plating Ripken; Tettleton was out at third but Orsulak took second on the throw. Jim Traber drove the next pitch into the gap in right-center, scoring Orsulak and placing himself at second. Larry Sheets was intentionally walked. Craig Worthington singled up the middle, scoring Traber and moving Sheets to second. Billy Ripken singled to center, loading the bases. Hawkins was then relieved by Chuck Cary who induced a ground ball to Mattingly, getting the lead runner at home for the second out of the inning. Before anyone could get optimistic, Steve Finley closed the book on Hawkins by hitting Cary's next pitch for a grand slam. The total damage: 2.1 IP, 5 H, 10 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 0 HR.
Andy Hawkins certainly had a bad day on June 5, 1989. I would guess that he may remember July 1, 1990 a little bit more. That was the day he lost a game 4-0 while holding the Chicago White Sox hitless for eight innings. His given name is Melton, but it may as well be Meltdown for what his defense did behind him.


marty said...

Check out the Mets Fla game tonight. The Fla pitcher Greg Olsen has given up 8 unearned runs and 0 earned.

TheJay said...

No wonder I just got a bunch of visitors who searched for the most unearned runs in a game on Google. Crazy timing. :)