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Article: First Wins & Conundrums

nick goody jorge polanco joe mauer ryan orourke terry felton
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#1 stewthornley



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Posted 23 June 2017 - 02:36 PM

A common conundrum for official scorers (and my last story) surrounds which pitcher gets a “Win.” This happened again twice last Saturday, June 17, as the Twins lost two games to Cleveland. The latter of these decisions led to a milestone win for a reliever, and kept him from climbing towards a record.A First Win
In the first game, Gregg Wong was the official scorer and had a pretty straightforward call, awarding the win to Zach McAllister, who relieved starter Ryan Merritt in the fifth and pitched two scoreless innings. But in the night game, I had more possibilities. A rain delay in the top of the fifth meant Mike Clevinger wouldn’t be back in the bottom of the inning.

Nick Goody came in with Cleveland ahead 2-1 and pitched a scoreless inning. Cleveland expanded its lead to 5-1 before Goody gave up a home run to Brian Dozier leading off the last of the sixth. He got the next two batters out and was relieved, so he pitched 1-2/3 innings with one earned run. Boone Logan, Cody Allen, and Andrew Miller pitched scoreless ball after that, but I awarded the win to Goody. In the context of each situation, all were effective.

It turned out to be Goody’s first major-league win in his 58th pitching appearance. (I also tipped off the Cleveland public-relations representative so he could get word to the dugout to keep the game ball for Goody.)

I suppose Goody was happy to get the win, but he had been climbing the charts for “Player Who Pitched The Most Games But Never Got A Win.” Juan Alvarez (1999-2003) and Ed Olwine (1986-1988) hold that record with 80 games without a win. Goody was the active pitcher with the most, and eighth overall. For what it’s worth, the Twins have two players in the top 11; older fans will remember Terry Felton didn’t get a win in his 55 appearances (9th place). And the new active player at the top of the list (11th overall) is Twins reliever Ryan O’Rourke, who is active, but underwent Tommy John surgery in May.

A First Loss (And Then Not)
The win was Goody’s first decision of any type, but he originally was charged with a loss a couple of years ago, only to have it removed a couple of days later. Unlike assigning the win – in which the scorer may have some discretion – this one had to be done according to the rules, but it was a tricky situation in which an interpretation had to be made.

July 30, 2015 the Yankees and Rangers were tied 6-6 at Texas going into the last of the ninth. Goody walked Delino DeShields to start the inning and was relieved by Andrew Miller. With one out Leonys Martin hit a grounder that struck DeShields. DeShields was out, and Martin was credited with a single. Martin went to second when Adrian Beltre walked and scored on a single by Josh Hamilton to end the game.

Who gets the loss? The question comes down to whether or not DeShields being hit by the batted ball is a fielder’s choice. If Martin had hit a grounder that resulted in DeShields being forced at second, Martin would still be Goody’s responsibility, because a fielder’s choice constitutes a swap of the runners. On the other hand, if Martin had grounded a single to right and DeShields was out trying to go to third, Goody would be off the hook, his runner erased.

What did happen – a runner hit by a batted ball – takes on the characteristics of the latter play described above. It is not a fielder’s choice. Thus, Martin became the responsibility of Miller. When Martin scored, the run and the loss were charged to Miller.

There was precedent for this interpretation, which you can read about in a conundrum in the newsletter of the Official Scoring Committee of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR):


Who Gets The Unearned Run?
How about another poser, regarding which pitcher gets an unearned run? I’ll reconstruct this inning from the last of the seventh inning in the Twins’ 20-7 win over Seattle on June 13, as though the error hadn’t occurred:

1. With Casey Lawrence on the mound, Jason Castro singles.
2. Polanco singles and Castro stops at second base.
3. Eddie Rosario flies out.
4. Brian Dozier doubles, scoring Castro with Polanco going to third.
5. Marc Rzepczynski relieves.
6. Joe Mauer hits a comebacker to Rzepczynski, and Polanco is trapped off third. Rzepczynski runs him back toward the bag and throws to third-baseman Kyle Seager, who muffs the throw, allowing Polanco to avoid being put out and to race home. The ruling was a fielder’s choice-error on Seager with no run batted in. (Polanco would have been out if not for the error.)
7. Robbie Grossman singles, loading the bases.
8. Max Kepler singles to bring in Dozier.
9. Kennys Vargas singles to score Mauer.
10. Eduardo Escobar singles to score Grossman.
11. Castro singles to bring in two more, although Castro was out trying to stretch the hit to a double.
12. After a pitching change, Polanco grounded out to end the inning.

Polanco’s run is unearned and is the only unearned run because all the runs after the error occurred before two were out. Which pitcher, Lawrence or Rzepczynski, gets the unearned run applied to his line?

The answer is Rzepczynski, even though Polanco, who scored the unearned run, was put on base by the Lawrence. That’s because the fielder’s choice on Mauer’s grounder was a fielder’s choice; even though there was not an out, it’s still considered a swap of the runners because of an error.

This type of situation was discussed in another committee conundrum:


Gratuitous Promotion
As long as I’m plugging these conundrums, here is a pitch to join SABR (http://sabr.org) and its Official Scoring Committee:


Thanks to those who have posted questions and comments on the forum for official scoring questions (http://twinsdaily.co...stions-for-stew). Keep them coming.

 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. 

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  • diehardtwinsfan likes this

#2 PDX Twin

PDX Twin

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Posted 23 June 2017 - 03:33 PM

Love this stuff! Thanks for posting it.

  • diehardtwinsfan and BigSkyTwinsFan like this

It's great to get out of the cellar ... as long as you bring something with you.

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: nick goody, jorge polanco, joe mauer, ryan orourke, terry felton