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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

WSJ: Bialik: Baseball’s Biggest Ninth-Inning Comebacks

In 73 seasons studied by Retrosheet president David Smith, just 213 teams came back from a deficit of four runs after eight innings. That’s out of 44,537 attempts, or a success rate of under 0.5%.

It gets worse for bigger deficits. According to a win expectancy calculator devised by Chris Shea from 30 years of box scores starting in 1977, fewer than 0.1% of the time do teams trailing by at least seven runs in the bottom of the ninth go on to win.

These rates are averages, and teams with a potent offense facing a weak bullpen have more favorable odds. Still, these sorts of numbers can help you decide whether to beat the traffic or stick around in the off chance you’ll witness a historic comeback.

So if the save rule was 7-runs…Trevor Hoffman would have 6,784 Saves by now! Like wow!

Repoz Posted: July 29, 2008 at 12:31 PM | 25 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics

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   1. BDC Posted: July 29, 2008 at 01:04 PM (#2879764)
A context to remember this fall when somebody breathlessly announces that the So-and-So's are a fabulous 56-1 when they take a three-run lead into the ninth ...
   2. salajander Posted: July 29, 2008 at 01:21 PM (#2879771)
This was a great comeback. 7 runs with 2 out in the bottom of the 9th to win it.
   3. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: July 29, 2008 at 01:24 PM (#2879776)
Here's the bottom of the ninth from the first game of a doubleheader on June 18, 1961. It began with the Senators leading the Red Sox by 12 to 5. There were two outs and a runner on first when the deluge began. It's still the only game I can remember that was tied up by a grand slam with two outs.

EDIT: Sorry about the configuration.

Bottom of the 9th, Red Sox Batting, Behind 5-12, Carl Mathias facing 7-8-9
Chuck Hinton moves to LF
O --- 0% V Wertz Groundout: 1B-P

--- 0% D Buddin Single to RF

Billy Harrell pinch hits for Ted Wills batting 9th
O -- 0% B Harrell Strikeout

--- 0% C Schilling Single to CF; Buddin to 2B

R12- 0% C Hardy Single to CF; Buddin Scores; Schilling to 3B

1-3 1% G Geiger Walk; Hardy to 2B

Dave Sisler replaces Carl Mathias pitching and batting 9th
R 123 2% J Jensen Walk; Schilling Scores; Hardy to 3B; Geiger to 2B

R 123 5% F Malzone Walk; Hardy Scores; Geiger to 3B; Jensen to 2B

RRRR 123 54% J Pagliaroni Home Run (Deep LF); Geiger Scores; Jensen Scores; Malzone Scores

--- 57% V Wertz Walk

Marty Kutyna replaces Dave Sisler pitching and batting 9th
1-- 61% D Buddin Single to LF; Wertz to 2B

Russ Nixon pinch hits for Billy Harrell batting 9th; Pete Runnels pinch runs for Vic Wertz batting 7th
R 12- 100% R Nixon Single to RF; Runnels Scores; Buddin to 2B

8 runs, 6 hits, 0 errors, 2 LOB. Senators 12, Red Sox 13.


And a kicker was that Pagliaroni also ended the second game with a 13th inning walkoff home run.
   4. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: July 29, 2008 at 01:32 PM (#2879781)
This was a great comeback. 7 runs with 2 out in the bottom of the 9th to win it.

I see that game ended with a two out walkoff grand slam with the Pirates trailing by three runs prior to the hit. That has to be the Gold Standard of clutch.

Has anyone ever compiled a list of such grand slams? I remember one by a Mariner against the Twins on Opening Day about 20+ years ago, but I'm sure there've been others.
   5. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 29, 2008 at 01:33 PM (#2879785)
Surprised this game didn't rate a mention. The Pirates were down six runs against the Astros, with two outs in the ninth and nobody on base... and they came back to win, 9-8. On a grand slam by Brian Giles, facing Billy Wagner.

The blow-by-blow:
PITTSBURGH 9TH: Ar Ramirez flied out to deep left. Vander Wal
flied out to center. K Young doubled to left. Meares homered
to left, K Young scored. Hyzdu hit for Olivares. Hyzdu singled
to left. T Redman walked, Hyzdu to second. J Wilson singled to
left, Hyzdu scored, T Redman to second. Billy Wagner relieved
Mike Jackson. Kendall hit by pitch, T Redman to third, J Wilson
to second. B Giles homered to right, T Redman, J Wilson and
Kendall scored. HOUSTON 8, PITTSBURGH 9.
   6. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 29, 2008 at 01:33 PM (#2879786)
D'oh, ninja'd.

Should've reloaded the page.
   7. thetalkingmoose Posted: July 29, 2008 at 02:19 PM (#2879813)
I'd have to say my all-time favorite 9th-inning comeback was the Phillies against the Dodgers on August 21, 1990. Down 11-1 going into the 8th, the Phillies score 2 in the 8th and then 9 in the 9th to pull off a really improbable comeback:

PHILLIES 9TH: WALSH REPLACED VALENZUELA (PITCHING); Booker
walked; Martinez reached on an error by Offerman [Booker to
third]; Thon singled to center [Booker scored, Martinez to
third]; Hollins singled to center [Martinez scored (unearned),
Thon to second]; Campusano flied to right; Nieto walked [Thon to
third, Hollins to second]; V. Hayes reached on an error by
Offerman [Thon scored (unearned) (RBI), Hollins to third, Nieto
to second]; CREWS REPLACED WALSH (PITCHING); Murphy doubled to
left [Hollins scored (unearned), Nieto scored (unearned), V.
Hayes to third]; KRUK BATTED FOR MCDOWELL; Kruk homered
(unearned, but earned for the pitcher) [V. Hayes scored
(unearned), Murphy scored (unearned, but earned for the
pitcher)]; Booker singled to center; HOWELL REPLACED CREWS
(PITCHING); Booker stole second; Martinez doubled to center
[Booker scored (unearned, but earned for the pitcher)]; Thon
flied to center; Hollins was walked intentionally; Campusano
grounded out (third to first); 9 R (4 ER), 6 H, 2 E, 2 LOB.
Phillies 12, Dodgers 11.
   8. SoSH U at work Posted: July 29, 2008 at 02:21 PM (#2879815)
Not related to ninth-inning comebacks, but this is probably the best place to put it.

I was watching The Cleaner with my wife last night, and the Benjamin Bratt character mentioned getting a foul ball at a Dodgers game, which was followed immediately by a Brian McCann home run. When I checked this morning, I found that McCann indeed homered on the day mentioned, and a foul ball preceded the homer (though not directly, as Bratt's character said). I must admit it elevates the show a little bit to know the writers are using Retrosheet or BBRef.
   9. salvomania Posted: July 29, 2008 at 02:30 PM (#2879826)
This was a relatively recent (2005) 9th-inning comeback from a 6-run deficit that is still fresh in my mind...

It's fun to watch the win expectancy climb: 0% to start the inning, 1% after a leadoff walk, climbing all the way up to 3% when the bases are loaded...

But when Pujols grounds out with the bases loaded for the second out and the Birds are still down by 5, the win expectancy falls back to 0%...

[EDIT: but jeez, not nearly as impressive as the Pirates walk-off granny noted above... especially when it all started with two out and nobody on]
   10. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: July 29, 2008 at 02:50 PM (#2879846)
Has any team ever produced back-to-back-to-back home runs while trailing either by two or three runs with two outs in the ninth?

With two outs and nobody on in the last of the ninth, and down by 2 to 0 in
this game, Matsui and Kenny Lofton hit back-to-back home runs to tie the game, and against Trevor Hoffman, no less. But has there ever been three straight dingers to tie or win it in that situation?

And has any team ever duplicated what the Yanks did in the 2001 World Series, tying two consecutive games with two out, ninth inning home runs?
   11. flournoy Posted: July 29, 2008 at 03:35 PM (#2879901)
I very distinctly remember this game. I almost quit watching before the ninth inning. Glad I didn't! And yes, that was Mike Stanton with the game winning bunt single in the fifteenth inning.

EDIT: By the way, Stanton had two hits in that game, 25% of his career total.
   12. Rodder Posted: July 29, 2008 at 03:41 PM (#2879906)
When John Kruk was asked after the game mentioned in post #7 if he was thinking the Phillies still had a chance going into the ninth. He said that no, what he was thinking about was whether room service would still be available when he got back to the hotel.
   13. Old Matt Posted: July 29, 2008 at 03:42 PM (#2879909)
Surprised this game didn't rate a mention. The Pirates were down six runs against the Astros, with two outs in the ninth and nobody on base... and they came back to win, 9-8. On a grand slam by Brian Giles, facing Billy Wagner.

It's not a rally without Adam Hyzdu.
   14. The importance of being Ernest Riles Posted: July 29, 2008 at 03:54 PM (#2879930)
Jason Giambi pulled the trick on May 17, 2002. In the top of the 14th inning, the Twins scored three runs, but Giambi hit a walkoff grand slam to win the game in the bottom of the inning. There was only one out, though.
   15. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: July 29, 2008 at 04:00 PM (#2879943)
August 29, 1986. angels beat Tigers 13-12 scoring 8 in the bottom of the ninth. Game-winning grand slam by Dickie Schofield.

ANGELS 9TH: Schofield singled to shortstop; Burleson lined to
center; Joyner walked [Schofield to second]; Downing singled to
center [Schofield to third, Joyner to second]; Howell doubled to
right [Schofield scored, Joyner scored, Downing to third];
HERNANDEZ REPLACED O'NEAL (PITCHING); Hendrick singled to left
[Downing scored, Howell to third]; Grich singled to left [Howell
scored, Hendrick to second]; Pettis forced Grich (second
unassisted) [Hendrick to third, Pettis to first]; JONES BATTED
FOR NARRON; Pettis advanced to second; Jones walked; Schofield
homered [Hendrick scored, Pettis scored, Jones scored]; 8 R, 6
H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Tigers 12, Angels 13.
   16. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: July 29, 2008 at 04:07 PM (#2879955)
Interesting related note. In June of 1979 the Royals scored 8 runs in the top of the ninth to beat Milwaukee 14-11. The following season the Brewers scored 8 runs in the top of the ninth to beat KC 9-5.

Take THAT Dan Quisenberry!!
   17. Steve Treder Posted: July 29, 2008 at 04:27 PM (#2879983)
My personal fave will always be this one:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SFN/SFN197305010.shtml

Man, it was thrilling.
   18. salvomania Posted: July 29, 2008 at 04:41 PM (#2879996)
Man, it was thrilling.

Chris Arnold---one of his four career homers, and his only one that year....

I still remember his 1973 Topps card, in which he looks like he was told to grab a bat and go hit after just waking up from sleeping off a bong session in the clubhouse...
   19. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: July 29, 2008 at 04:43 PM (#2880000)
At one point I had a list of "Ultimate Grand Slams" or something like that, which listed all the 2-out, down by 3 grannies in history. If memory serves, there couldn't have been more than than 10, or 15 tops.
   20. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: July 29, 2008 at 04:47 PM (#2880003)
You want a personal moment that was LESS than thrilling:


On April 10, 1976, the Brewers were playing the New York Yankees in the second game of a season-opening series at County Stadium and, headed into the bottom of the ninth inning, were trailing, 9-6.

With hard-throwing reliever Dave Pagan on the mound, the Brewers loaded the bases with nobody out. As Money stepped to the plate, the chilly crowd of 10,871 began cheering.

The cheers turned to roars when Money hit a line drive into the left-field bleachers.

"I hit it pretty good," said Money, who is currently managing the Brewers' Class A affiliate in Beloit. "You're never trying to hit one out in that situation. I was just trying to hit the ball hard and knock in a couple runs to get us close."

Money circled the bases and was mobbed by his teammates at home plate. What happened next was almost surreal, and it helped spark a long-running rivalry between the Brewers, the Yankees and their fiery skipper, Billy Martin.

"I went back to the dugout, got a drink of water and sat down on the bench," Money said. "Somebody came up to me and said, 'Somebody on the field called time out. You are going to have to go back up there and hit again.' "

"I thought they were kidding. I said, 'Yeah, sure.' Then I looked on the field and saw all the umpires talking. Sure enough, it was true."

Fred Stanley, then a Yankees shortstop and now the Brewers' assistant general manager, remembers the play vividly.

"The pitch before Money hit the home run, Billy was trying to get (first baseman) Chris Chambliss to call time out because he wanted him to go over and talk to Pagan," Stanley said. "He was jumping up and down and screaming, but Chambliss didn't see him.

"Finally, just before Pagan threw the pitch for the home run, Chambliss saw Billy and turned around and asked (umpire) Jim McKean to call time. As soon as Money hit the ball, Billy came out of our dugout and started screaming at the umpires that time had been called."

After a lengthy discussion, McKean, who was a rookie umpire working his second game, admitted that he had signaled for time out. At that point, the Brewers went crazy. Their protests were ignored, however, and the teams were ordered back on the field.
   21. Traderdave Posted: July 29, 2008 at 04:55 PM (#2880013)
This was the second or third big league game I atteneded.

http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1978/B09280CIN1978.htm
   22. BeanoCook Posted: July 29, 2008 at 05:05 PM (#2880022)
Wagner Blew Save AGAIN!

May 22nd, 2000. Game 1 of double header. Brewers came back down 9-2 in bottom of 9th to tie, Wagner blew save. 10th inning HR by J Hernandez won it. (I was 1 of about 2,000 to witness this)

June 28th, 2001. Wagner blows 2nd game in 2 years where team had 7 run lead in 9th. Of course Wagner didn't give up all of these runs, but he did blow both games.

Incredible.
   23. Steve Treder Posted: July 29, 2008 at 05:44 PM (#2880078)
This was the second or third big league game I atteneded.

http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1978/B09280CIN1978.htm


Sweet. It's always best when the Dodgers are the victim.

This was another one that was lots of fun:

http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1973/B09030SFN1973.htm

It was the ABC "Monday Night Baseball" game, and they had Chuck Connors in the booth as their guest color man ... as an ex-Dodger he was yukking it up about what a laugher the game was, and asking the regular broadcasters what they normally did to keep the telecast interesting when the game was so hopelessly out of reach, yadda yadda yadda.

How's that crow taste, there, Chuck?
   24. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: July 29, 2008 at 06:04 PM (#2880137)
Here's my quetion: what's the biggest first inning lead ever blown? The team didn't even have to end up losing it, but what's the largest margin a team ever frittered away early?

Or, another/similar one - what's the biggest lead blown within the first inning. In teh 23-22 game the Phillies nearly blew a 7-0 lead in the bottom of the first.
   25. Barca Posted: July 31, 2008 at 06:44 PM (#2884488)
Talk about Grand Slams in the bottom of the ninth with 2 outs and an 0-2 count.
I was at Harvey's August 29, 1986 game. http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CAL/CAL198608290.shtml

I swear Schofield sucked Hernandez in with 2 of the weakest swings ever. Willie thought he would just bury the third strike right over the plate.

I guess this proves that anyone could be called 'clutch', no matter what their actual numbers are.

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