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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Flukiest Games Ever Pitched

They caught lightning in a bottle (and brought it with them on the mound)

gehrig97 Posted: March 27, 2018 at 02:49 PM | 35 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: lucky games, mets, phillies, pirates, pitching

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   1. Baseballs Most Beloved Figure Posted: March 28, 2018 at 12:09 PM (#5644238)
Read Jeremy Lehrman's book on MVP voting. It's really good.
   2. Zonk was SHOCKED by #6! Posted: March 28, 2018 at 12:37 PM (#5644266)
It wouldn't qualify for this list as the spread isn't quite so large - but the flukiest game I ever saw pitched was Jeff Pico's debut in 1988

This was in the pre-internet days and I was EXTREMELY excited about it -- I had spent most of 1987 playing an old MicroLeague PC baseball game using "prospect teams" that I had laboriously hand-crafted out of Baseball America papers and Jeff Pico was the ace of the my Cubs prospect team (though he was never much of a prospect, his stats were good - at least, in the days of VERY rudimentary PC sims).

So - when he came up in 1988, I was excited... When he came up and threw a complete game 4 hitter against a decent Reds (Larkin, Eric Davis, pre-injury heap Kal Daniels, etc) lineup - I was absolutely thrilled. Gamescore of 85 - just 29 batters faced.. 6 Ks and no BBs.
   3. Baseballs Most Beloved Figure Posted: March 28, 2018 at 12:46 PM (#5644281)
WGN crafted a commercial advertising Pico's next start after that game. It was a big Cubs deal. And went nowhere.
   4. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: March 28, 2018 at 12:51 PM (#5644288)
I with TFA had stuck only with 9 inning games--flukeishly high game scores can always occur in extreme extra inning games
   5. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: March 28, 2018 at 12:56 PM (#5644294)
Vince Velasquez, making history as a rookie!

My favorite fluke start was by Anthony Shumaker.
First MLB start: 8 innings, 2 runs, 1 ER, Game Score of 68. But lost the game, outdueled by the great Bruce Chen.
Second MLB start: 6 innings, 1 run, and now 6 strikeouts! Impressive. Game score of 63.
Third MLB start: Game score of 24.
Fourth MLB start: Game score of 18.
End of career.

The Joe Roa experience in 2002 was similar.
   6. The Ghost of Logan Schafer Posted: March 28, 2018 at 01:06 PM (#5644304)
Steve Woodard made 94 starts for the Brewers. He saved the best for first, as he beat Roger Clemens 1-0 on 7/28/97
in his major league debut. He pitched 8 shutout innings, allowing 1 hit and 1 walk, while striking out 12.
   7. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: March 28, 2018 at 01:10 PM (#5644309)
Steve Woodard, Game Score of 91, vs Clemens (TOR, 7/28/97, game 1 of a DH. 8 IP, 1H, 1BB, 12Ks, 0 R. Brewers won 1-0. Old Man Nixon got the only Blue Jays hit leading off the first inning, a double. I think he stole 3rd, but was stranded. I remember the Brewers turning a triple play in the night cap.

coke to Logan Schafer. Were you in person? I was!!!!!
   8. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 28, 2018 at 01:14 PM (#5644316)
Hard not to have Larsen's perfect game on the list. Context matters here.

   9. Zonk was SHOCKED by #6! Posted: March 28, 2018 at 01:23 PM (#5644325)
WGN crafted a commercial advertising Pico's next start after that game. It was a big Cubs deal. And went nowhere.


Hey!

He crapped the bed in his followup, but then won with 8 innings of what they used to call "gutsy" pitching... and also beat Ron Darling and the 100 game winning Mets in a nice CG to close out June.
   10. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: March 28, 2018 at 01:32 PM (#5644335)
Steve Woodard apparently is the patron saint of these things. When I think of fluky games I think of this one. The 2000 Red Sox fighting for a playoff berth had a doubleheader against Cleveland. Game one was an easy win for the Sox as they were sending PEDRO (17-5, 1.81 to that point) against Woodard (2-10, 6.34 to that point).

Well yeah, you know what happened. Pedro did his thing giving up 1 run over 8 innings but Woodard pitched 6 innings of 3 hit shutout baseball as the Indians beat the Sox 2-1. I almost burned Fenway down that day.

Also I happened to be looking at Game Five of last year's World Series. To have that game play out that way in a game started by Keuchel and Kershaw is pretty far from whatever expectation might exist.
   11. gehrig97 Posted: March 28, 2018 at 01:45 PM (#5644350)
@8: Author here. Yeah, Larsen was a very difficult omission. His is obviously the greatest "fluke" in history, given the circumstances. But his perfect moment didn't make the cut because of the relatively low Gsc (94).Larsen's next best score was 91, so the Perfecto wasn't technically a "fluke" based on the parameters of the article.

Incidentally, Larsen has another WS gem on his resume: A 7IP/0ER/8K victory in Game 4 of the 1958 WS.
   12. gehrig97 Posted: March 28, 2018 at 01:46 PM (#5644351)
@1: Thanks so much for the kind words. Truly appreciated!
   13. Batman Posted: March 28, 2018 at 01:50 PM (#5644353)
I remember how excited my Cub fan Babe Ruth League coach was after the Pico shutout. Maddux was having his first really good year, and Pico, Maddux, Jamie Moyer, and Calvin Schiraldi were going to lead the Cubs into a new golden age. Maddux had pitched a ten-inning shutout (won on a walkoff bunt by Vance Law) and had taken another shutout into the 11th earlier that month.
   14. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 28, 2018 at 01:51 PM (#5644359)
But his perfect moment didn't make the cut because of the relatively low Gsc (94).

This seems to be a flaw of game score, though. A perfect game should definitionally have the highest possible game score.
   15. gehrig97 Posted: March 28, 2018 at 02:00 PM (#5644367)
Yeah. Larsen only K'd three that perfect day... and GSc loves Ks. I think Nolan Ryan is the only post WW2 pitcher with more than three career 100+ games for that very reason. Kerry Wood's 20K game in 1998 sets the GsC mark for a 9-inning affair: 105.
   16. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 28, 2018 at 02:18 PM (#5644393)
Yeah. Larsen only K'd three that perfect day...

Why waste pitchers on K's if they can't make solid contact.
   17. McCoy Posted: March 28, 2018 at 02:41 PM (#5644413)
I mentioned it before but I once met Bob Hartman who in his first career start pitched a 10 inning 3 hit game to beat Sudden Sam Jones. I looked it up and his game score that day was 86. His next highest game score was 38. Of course he only ever had two career starts but still . . .
   18. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 28, 2018 at 02:47 PM (#5644418)
Yeah. Larsen only K'd three that perfect day... and GSc loves Ks. I think Nolan Ryan is the only post WW2 pitcher with more than three career 100+ games for that very reason. Kerry Wood's 20K game in 1998 sets the GsC mark for a 9-inning affair: 105.

In fact Larsen got seven K's that day, not three.
   19. Karl from NY Posted: March 28, 2018 at 02:49 PM (#5644421)
This seems to be a flaw of game score, though. A perfect game should definitionally have the highest possible game score.

The difference is strikeouts. If a pitcher threw a lot of K's, you know he did the work, while other outs means he relied on the defense and needed some luck there. I'd rate a 20-K 1-hitter over a 3-K perfect game.

"Perfect" isn't literally true, it's just shorthand for "no baserunners".
   20. gehrig97 Posted: March 28, 2018 at 02:55 PM (#5644428)
@18: Yup. My bad. Teaches me to try and cite things from my swiss-cheese memory.
   21. ajnrules Posted: March 28, 2018 at 02:55 PM (#5644433)
The pitcher who achieved the highest game score in all of the games I've attended in person was not Roger Clemens or Randy Johnson. It was not Jake Peavy or Justin Verlander, even though I was at the ALCS game last year where he threw a complete game with 13 strikeouts.

It was Jason Marquis. He threw a complete game, two-hit shutout where he took a no-hitter to the 7th inning. His four strikeouts and one walk gave him a game score of 86, one higher than Verlander's playoff start. Of course for a guy that's made over 300 starts in his career he's going to have some standout performances, and apparently he's had three other starts with a game score of 86. It's still hard to believe that he's beaten out several other pitching greats I've managed to see.

Anyways, neat article.
   22. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 28, 2018 at 03:04 PM (#5644442)
@18: Yup. My bad. Teaches me to try and cite things from my swiss-cheese memory.

I'd like to say I was there, but that day was one of the few times I couldn't convince my Mom to stay home and watch the game on a school day. The game was over at 3:06, and school let out at 3:00. It was the only ####### game in that entire Series that I didn't get to see.
   23. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 28, 2018 at 04:17 PM (#5644484)
The difference is strikeouts. If a pitcher threw a lot of K's, you know he did the work, while other outs means he relied on the defense and needed some luck there. I'd rate a 20-K 1-hitter over a 3-K perfect game.

"Perfect" isn't literally true, it's just shorthand for "no baserunners".


I would disagree. This is a results based metric. 27 up, 27 down is the best you can do. It is literally perfect. I don't care if it's 0 K's or 20 K's.

You can lose a no-hitter. You can lose a 1-hitter with 27 K's. You can't lose a perfect game.

   24. Karl from NY Posted: March 28, 2018 at 04:59 PM (#5644511)
The results-based metric is the Win. You can't lose a game where you earned a Win.

27 up, 27 down is the best the team can do, but doesn't mean the pitcher gave the best possible performance. 20 K is a better pitching performance than 0 K because your team will win a greater proportion of such games. That's what Game Score reflects. Even if your defense might on some given day allow more runs on 7 BIP than it did yesterday on 27 BIP.

(That said, Game Score is fun but junk-ish in that the weights for each event aren't scientific at all. I say WPA is the right evaluation for context-inclusive performance.)
   25. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 28, 2018 at 05:04 PM (#5644516)
27 up, 27 down is the best the team can do, but doesn't mean the pitcher gave the best possible performance. 20 K is a better pitching performance than 0 K because your team will win a greater proportion of such games. That's what Game Score reflects. Even if your defense might on some given day allow more runs on 7 BIP than it did yesterday on 27 BIP.

This is too much reliance on discredited DIPS theory. Pitchers who throw perfect games are almost certainly inducing far more weak contact than average. I'd rather have weak contact than K's, because K's usually come with more walks, and elevated pitch counts that sap performance.

To me that absolute perfect game would be 27 pop-ups. Pop-ups are better than K's; they require fewer pitches.
   26. Karl from NY Posted: March 28, 2018 at 05:46 PM (#5644548)
Pop-ups aren't better than K's, because sometimes your defense won't catch them. (More often than your catcher fails to catch a K.)
   27. Batman Posted: March 28, 2018 at 05:56 PM (#5644553)
27 straight foul pop ups would be ideal, then. There's no risk.

But if all perfect games are the same, aren't all shutouts the same, including perfect games? You can't lose when you pitch a shutout.
   28. SoSH U at work Posted: March 28, 2018 at 06:18 PM (#5644566)
"Perfect" isn't literally true, it's just shorthand for "no baserunners".


And no baserunners is, quite literally, perfect.

I understand the argument you're making about the level of impressiveness of the performance, and don't necessarily disagree. But the perfect game isn't mislabeled.
   29. bfan Posted: March 28, 2018 at 06:29 PM (#5644573)
To inject more complexity into this, what about the pitchers who did not pitch a perfect game only because of an error not made by them. Isn't that the greatest of the great game?
   30. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 28, 2018 at 07:50 PM (#5644615)
And no baserunners is, quite literally, perfect.

What if there is an error on a foul ball? Like the famous Berra error in the 2nd Reynolds no-hitter.

If the pitcher retires the batter anyway, it's still 27 up, 27 down. To me, that should still count as a perfect game.
   31. SoSH U at work Posted: March 28, 2018 at 07:57 PM (#5644619)
If the pitcher retires the batter anyway, it's still 27 up, 27 down. To me, that should still count as a perfect game.


It is.

A perfect game isn't:

0 0 x
x x 0.

It's no baserunners.

You can make an error in a perfect game, provided it's on one of those 27 pop-ups Batman was talking about.

   32. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 28, 2018 at 08:04 PM (#5644622)
It is.

A perfect game isn't:

0 0 x
x x 0.

It's no baserunners.

You can make an error in a perfect game, provided it's on one of those 27 pop-ups Batman was talking about.


Cool. In reality a perfect game with that kind of error is even "more perfect". The pitcher induced 28 outs.

A 10+ inning perfecto would be awesome too. Poor Harvey Haddix. His batters should have been shot.
   33. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: March 28, 2018 at 08:08 PM (#5644625)
The pitcher who achieved the highest game score in all of the games I've attended in person was not Roger Clemens or Randy Johnson. It was not Jake Peavy or Justin Verlander, even though I was at the ALCS game last year where he threw a complete game with 13 strikeouts.


Nolan Ryan for me. 10 IP. 3 hits, no walks or runs, 15 strikeouts. GS of 101. Sox starter Greg Hibbard had a GS of 81.
   34. SoSH U at work Posted: March 28, 2018 at 08:27 PM (#5644634)
Cool. In reality a perfect game with that kind of error is even "more perfect". The pitcher induced 28 outs.


A Galarraga.
   35. Justin Turner Overdrive Posted: March 29, 2018 at 03:45 AM (#5644707)
The Joe Roa experience in 2002 was similar.


I saw the great Joe Roa pitch a no-hitter for the Single-A Macon Braves in 1991.

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