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— Where BTF's Members Investigate the Grand Old Game
Monday, January 04, 2010
Bert Blyleven’s 1979 no-decisions
I wrote this in 2004 to SABR-L, and I’ll repost it here since it sparked some interest.
Blyleven’s no-decision starts (data courtesy of Retrosheet):
4/6: Blyleven faced off against Montreal’s Steve Rogers on Opening Day in Pittsburgh, pitching seven solid innings and allowing two runs, but left trailing 2-1. The Pirates tied it on Omar Moreno’s single in the bottom of the 8th, but lost 3-2 in the tenth on errors by Kent Tekulve and Dale Berra.
4/21: The first of six consecutive no-decisions, and eight in nine starts. In Houston, the Pirates came back from an early 3-0 deficit to take a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the sixth, but Blyleven gave up two-out singles to Ken Forsch, Terry Puhl, and Craig Reynolds to tie it, then was lifted after walking Cesar Cedeno to load the bases. Grant Jackson shut the door, but the Astros won it in 10 as Berra again committed a key error to hang a loss on Tekulve.
4/25: In Cincinnati, Blyleven gave up two runs in the third, and left in the seventh with a 2-1 deficit. Moreno once again drove in the tying run in the eighth with a single, and this time the Bucs got a win for Tekulve in the 11th.
5/1: Against Atlanta’s Phil Niekro at home, Blyleven left for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the eighth, with the game tied at 2. The Braves jumped on Tekulve and Enrique Romo for a three-spot in the top of the ninth to take a 5-2 win.
5/5: In St. Louis, Blyleven was rocked in a 3-run fourth inning and was removed trailing 4-0. The Pirates got two in the sixth, one in the eighth, and then tallied three unearned runs in the top of the ninth to take a 6-5 comeback win.
5/11: In a return engagement against the Reds in Pittsburgh, Blyleven pitched six indifferent innings, allowing four runs. The Bucs tied the score in the sixth as Blyleven left for a pinch-hitter, and the Reds got one in the eighth and three in the ninth for an 8-4 win.
5/16: In Three Rivers against the Mets, Blyleven took a 3-2 lead into the ninth inning. Steve Henderson led off with a single, and then Berra booted John Stearns’s grounder for an error. Tekulve came on for Blyleven, giving up a sacrifice and an intentional walk, and then Jackson relieved and allowed Gil Flores to hit a sacrifice fly which plated the tying run. Mike Easler’s pinch-hit HR won the game for
5/26: After beating the Expos in Montreal on the 21st for his first win of 1979, Blyleven was back in the no-decision rut in Shea Stadium. The Mets cranked out four consecutive two-out singles in the third which led to a five-run inning and an early shower for Blyleven. Facing a 5-1 deficit, the Pirates quickly responded with a run in the fourth off Mike Scott and three in the fifth off Scott and Jesse Orosco to take Blyleven off the hook, but they eventually lost the game 10-8.
5/31: Back home against the Cubs, Blylven left for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the sixth inning of a 2-2 tie. The Pirates got a run in that frame to give Bert a 3-2 lead, but the Cubs tied it off Romo in the eighth, and the Pirates were forced into extra frames before winning 4-3 in the 10th.
6/10: Blyleven had a 2-1 lead at Three Rivers entering the top of the sixth against the Giants, but Bill Madlock’s leadoff triple and Darrell Evans’s single quickly tied the game, and after an additional single by John Tamargo, Romo came into the game. Aided by yet another Berra error, the Giants took a 3-2 lead, but the Bucs got Blyleven off the hook yet again in the bottom half with two runs, although San Francisco eventually won 7-4.
7/8: In the second game of a doubleheader at Riverfront Stadium, Blyleven allowed just one run in seven innings, but the Pirates could only muster a single tally themselves off Tom Hume. Blyleven left in the top of the eighth for a pinch-hitter, and Willie Stargell’s homer off Dave Tomlin in the ninth gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 win.
7/19: Against the Astros in the opener of a home twinbill, Blyleven gave up three in the first and two in the fourth before leaving in favor of Dave Roberts, tied at 5. Phil Garner’s two-run shot in the sixth gave Roberts his first victory as a Pirate, as the Bucs eventually won 9-5.
8/5: Pitching the first game of a double dip at home against the Phillies, Blyleven was handed an early 3-2 lead, but departed in the middle of a 6-run Philadelphia 5th inning outburst punctuated by Greg Luzinski’s grand slam. The Pirates fought back to tie it at 8 after eight innings, and John Milner hit a gran slam in the bottom of the ninth to salvage a 12-8 win.
8/10: At Philadelphia, again in the lidlifter of a doubleheader, Blyleven lasted seven innings, allowing three runs. Tim Foli’s two-run homer in the top of the eighth tied it at 3 as Blyleven left for a pinch-hitter, and the Phils eventually won 4-3 in 12.
8/20: In a wild one against the Giants in Pittsburgh, Blyleven pitched six innings, allowing five runs and leaving with a 5-5 tie. An eighth-inning passed ball by Mike Sadek allowed pinch-runner Alberto Lois to score the winning run in a 6-5 victory.
8/25: In San Diego, Blyleven allowed the Padres two runs in the third, then shut down the Pads through seven before leaving for a pinch-hitter, down 2-0. The Pirates scored twice in the ninth to tie it (aided again by a passed ball that allowed the tying run to score). Both teams plated single runs in the 12th, and the Bucs eventually outlasted the Padres 4-3 in the 19th.
9/8: In Shea Stadium, Blyleven again allowed just two runs in seven innings, only to find himself down 2-0. This time, the Bucs tied the game in the eighth as Stargell batted for Blyleven and delivered a pinch-single, but the Bucs eventually lost to old shipmate Dock Ellis in the 15th.
9/15: Facing the Mets again in Pittsburgh, Blyleven gave up a pair of runs in the first, but took a 4-2 lead into the seventh. Blyleven loaded the bases with two outs, then yielded a two-run single to Lee Mazzilli to tie the score and was replaced by Roberts. Roberts got the 5-4 win when Bill Robinson drove in the tiebreaking run in the bottom of the 7th.
9/19: In the first game of a doubleheader at Veterans Stadium, Blyleven allowed single runs in the first and third, and departed for a pinch-hitter in the top of the sixth, trailing 2-1. Mike Schmidt hit a grand-slam off Romo in the seventh to extend the lead to 6-1. The Bucs got three off Tug McGraw in the eighth, then completed the comeback with five off McGraw and Rawly Eastwick in the ninth, keyed by Manny Sanguillen’s two-run triple to take a 9-6 win.
9/29: Against the Cubs at home, Blyleven led 3-1 through five but saw the lead evaporate on a Dave Kingman single and Steve Ontiveros’s two-run double. Romo came on and yielded two additional runs as the Cubs took a 6-3 lead. The Bucs got one in the sixth and two off Bruce Sutter in the seventh to tie it. Stargell’s 13th-inning error gave Cub rookie Bill Caudill his first major league win after seven straight losses.
The thing that struck me about these 20 no-decisions is that Blyleven left with a lead only twice, while departing with a deficit nine times and in tie games nine other times (including a couple of cases where the Pirates tied the game as he was leaving for a pinch-hitter). Although Blyleven did tend to receive less run support in his starts than his teammates (receiving less-than-expected run support in 23 of 37 starts in 1979), poor run support was a hindrance in only about a third of his no-decisions; the rest of it was generally Blyleven’s own inability to hold the opposition down. Looking at his pattern of runs allowed, my best estimate of his likely won-lost record, had the Pirates scored for him as they did for his teammates, would be about 14-11.
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