Finding a "W"
Image courtesy of © Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY SportsStarter David Paulino pitched four innings, giving up two runs. Houston led 5-2 when James Hoyt came in for the bottom of the fifth. In the sixth (after the Astros had scored another in the top of the inning) Hoyt gave up a one-out homer to Eddie Rosario and two-out single to Chris Gimenez. Tony Sipp relieved, and Jason Castro greeted him with a home run to center.
Stew Thornley is one of the Twins official scorers and a baseball historian. He will occasionally provide insight to the decisions official scorers make. If you have any questions you would like him to address in a future story, you can ask them in this Twins Daily thread. You can also read more from Stew at StewThornley.net.
Houston padded its lead with six runs in the seventh, and Reymin Guduan made his major-league debut. In his second inning on the mound, in the eighth, Guduan gave up a double and a walk and allowed one of the runners to score on a wild pitch.
Then Feliz pitched the ninth, allowing a two-out double.
I wasn’t the scorer in this game, but I was sitting next to Gregg Wong, the official scorer, who knew he was going to have to assign the win to one of the relievers. Rule 9.17( states that the starting pitcher must complete five innings of a game that lasts six or more innings on defense to receive a win. If the starter doesn’t go that long but leaves with his team in the lead, and his team holds the lead, then “the official scorer shall credit as the winning pitcher the relief pitcher, if there is only one relief pitcher, or the relief pitcher who, in the official scorer’s judgment was the most effective, if there is more than one relief pitcher.”
A comment reads, “It is the intent of Rule 9.17( that a relief pitcher pitch at least one complete inning or pitch when a crucial out is made, within the context of the game (including the score), in order to be credited as the winning pitcher. If the first relief pitcher pitches effectively, the official scorer should not presumptively credit that pitcher with the win, because the rule requires that the win be credited to the pitcher who was the most effective, and a subsequent relief pitcher may have been most effective. The official scorer, in determining which relief pitcher was the most effective, should consider the number of runs, earned runs and base runners given up by each relief pitcher and the context of the game at the time of each relief pitcher’s appearance. If two or more relief pitchers were similarly effective, the official scorer should give the presumption to the earlier pitcher as the winning pitcher.”
So if you the official scorer, to whom would you credit the win?
A number of writers approached Gregg in the late innings and asked if Hoyt (two earned runs allowed in 1-2/3 innings) would get the win. Wonger’s consistent reply was, “I don’t know yet.”
Tony Sipp wasn’t going to get it; that was clear. What about Guduan? Two innings with one run allowed wasn’t awful, but how could it be more effective than a scoreless inning, provided by Feliz at the end?
Even that didn’t become certain as Feliz gave up a two-out double to Ehire Adrianza. One more hit would bring him in, and all of a sudden Feliz’s line isn’t that effective. Gregg said if Adrianza scored that Guduan would get the win; otherwise, it would go to Feliz. I agreed completely. It wasn’t until Eddie Rosario swung and missed to end the game that Wonger could make his decision.
Some people criticized it and said, under these circumstances, it would make sense to give the win to the starter, Paulino. But official scorers have to go by the rule book, not by their opinion of a particular rule.
Gregg is an experienced and insightful official scorer who made, in my opinion, the only decision that made sense by the rules.
By the way, it is possible for a starter to get a win without completing five innings. The starting pitcher, assuming he is the pitcher of record, may receive a win for pitching four innings of a game that lasts five innings on defense, according to Rule 9.17( . The last time this happened was June 1, 2001 in a Cleveland at New York Yankees game. C. C. Sabathia of Cleveland completed four innings and was relieved to begin the bottom of the fifth with Cleveland ahead 5-4. Cleveland extended its lead to 7-4 and, in bottom of the sixth, the game was called by rain after an error (on a dropped pop foul). Sabathia received the win.
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