One of the most frustrating experiences for any pitcher has to be the well-pitched loss. You know the type I’m talking about. It’s the kind of game that occurs when both pitchers are dealing and the smallest breakthrough; a soft single up the middle with a runner on 2nd or a botched grounder by an infielder for instance, can determine the outcome. Unfortunately in those circumstances, somebody has to take a tough luck loss, even if that day’s pitcher struck out 15 while only allowing one hit. Well, without further adieu, I present to you the tough luck losers of 2013:
The Nationals’ young ace took what in my estimation serves as the toughest loss in 2013 back in July against the Pirates. Strasburg mowed down 12 Pirates via the strikeout over 8 innings while allowing no walks and just 2 hits. Of course one of those hits, a 2nd inning blast by Pedro Alvarez, left the park and with Francisco Liriano subduing a hapless Nats offense, Strasburg was left holding the bag. He’s only the 2nd pitcher in the modern era (dating back to 1900) with at least 12 strikeouts while allowing 2 or fewer hits and 0 walks in a loss. The other pitcher was James Shields, who performed the semi-dubious feat a year ago against the Orioles.
Anytime your manager can sum up a game by saying “It’s obviously frustrating to lose when you get a pitching performance like that. Chris threw great. They just had an inning where they scored a couple runs and never hit the ball out of the infield,” you know it was a rough game. During the 5th inning of an 8 inning, 14 strikeout masterpiece by Sale, shortstop Alexei Ramirez booted not one but two groundballs, allowing 2 Houston runs to score. That pair of runs would be all Eric Bedard and handful of relievers needed as the Astros cruised to a 2-1 victory, sticking Sale with an undeserved loss.
Anytime you limit the #1 offense in baseball to a measly 3 base runners in 8 innings you expect to chalk up a tally in the win column. That goes doubly so if you tack on 9 strikeouts in those same 8 innings. Well, unfortunately for David Price, it’s still awful difficult to win a game when your team doesn’t score. Clay Buchholz and a trio of relievers held the Rays scoreless and silent for 9 innings and by making the most of their hits, Boston was able to scratch out 2 runs in the 5th inning for the win.
As impossible as it might be to believe, Joe Blanton actually managed to make a good start or two this season. On June 3rd against the Astros he borderline brilliant really, striking out 11 batters while allowing 3 hits and 2 walks in 8 innings. Unfortunately for Blaton one of those hits was a bomb to the left field seats courtesy of Chris Carter. Even more unfortunately, Blanton was opposing Eric Bedard, who brought his A-game, shutting the Angels down over 7 solid innings.
After holding the Diamondbacks scoreless for 8 consecutive innings on just 92 pitches, Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly decided to let Josh Beckett handle the 9th inning as well. That decision wound up backfiring thanks to an AJ Pollock double and a Paul Goldschmidt squib single, giving the Diamondbacks a 1-0 win.
And just for fun, here are the three worst performances of 2013 in which a starting pitcher was still able to pick up a win:
Lynn picked up a W thanks in large part to his offense, which piled up 13 runs on the hapless Marlins and they needed just about every one. After all, it’s not often you get a win after allowing 7 runs, 9 hits, and 3 walks in just 5 innings. To make matters even worse, Lynn’s putrid performance came against the worst offense in baseball since the designated hitter was implemented. According to Bill James’ game score metric, Lynn’s start registered as a 24, a full 62 points below the start Stephen Strasburg made against Pittsburgh to kick off this post.
Williams went the minimum 5 innings against Toronto and he was barely able to make it out alive, allowing 9 hits, a walk, and 6 runs. Luckily, for the right-hander the Angels were able to pile up 12 runs against a bad Toronto staff.
I think it’s safe to say that 2013 has been an absolute disaster for the former Phillie. Worley posted an ERA north of 7.00 in 10 starts this year, picking up just one undeserved win in May against the Orioles. Why was that win undeserved you ask? Well, when you scatter 11 hits while striking out just 1 batter over 5 innings it’s tough to keep runs off the board. Luckily for Worley his opponent, Steve Johnson, was worse, giving Minnesota an 8-5 victory.