The Red Sox were able to come back on Tuesday and stop their second straight three game losing streak before it became their first four game losing streak. At the time, they were the only team in baseball without a streak of at least four consecutive losses. Much had been made over the fact that the 1903 and 2013 Red Sox were the only Red Sox teams ever to go a season without a four game losing streak and both had won the World Series that year.
On Tuesday, they had come from behind, against the lowly Miami Marlins, after being ahead early, to score three in the bottom of the eight and forge ahead again 7-6. With Craig Kimbrel coming in to pitch the ninth, Red Sox fans figured the game was all wrapped up. Kimbrel proceeded to allow the Marlins to score the tying run on two walks and a single, blowing his fifth save of the year.
Of course, the Sox then got one in the bottom of the ninth to win the game 8-7. Despite blowing the save and almost causing the Sox to lose their fourth in a row, Kimbrel was the beneficiary of J. T. Riddle’s error that cost the Marlins the win.
When the Sox came right back in the last of the ninth to win the game in walk off fashion, albeit on an error, Kimbrel, having pitched last for the Sox, was the pitcher of record and therefore, after blowing the lead he had come in to protect, he got credit for the win. Kimbrel, at that point, had had a magnificent season with 37 saves, a 2.55 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 53 innings but he was terrible on Tuesday night.
This is the second time this month that Kimbrel has blown a save and gotten credit for the win when the winning run was scored after he had pitched his one inning. On August 7th, he came on in the ninth against the Toronto Blue Jays with a 5-4 lead and blew the save, giving up a homer to Justin Smoak, tying the score and sending the game into extra innings. When the Sox got five in the top of the tenth to win and, even though Tyler Thornburg relieved him in the last of the tenth, Kimbrel got the win to go with his blown save.
This occurs throughout baseball all the time, not just to Kimbrel and the Red Sox, but that does not make it fair or right. It just doesn’t seem right that a pitcher should fail miserably and still get credit for the win but that’s the rule and this type of inequity occurs regularly. Why not allow the official scorer to award the win to the most deserving pitcher when this happens? After all, the scorer makes judgment calls between hits and errors during a game all the time.
Wouldn’t it be more equitable to give the win to Brandon Workman, who pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings in relief and left with the Sox ahead 3-1, or Brian Johnson, the reliever who started the game and gave up only one run in 4 1/3 innings and left ahead 3-1?
( You certainly couldn’t give it to Matt Barnes, who gave up three runs on four hits in 1/3 an inning after coming in with a 4-1 lead and leaving with the score tied 4-4.)
While I’m on the subject of inequities in baseball, how about the unwritten rule that says if an outfielder misjudges a ball allowing it to fall without being touched there is no error? How many balls have you seen that should have been routine outs that fell for a double or triple because an outfielder started in on a ball that then went over his head for a triple? Eduardo Nunez got an inside the park homer on opening day this year on such a play. He got awarded a homer on a ball that should have been caught by Tampa Bay center fielder, Kevin Kiermaier and didn’t even roll as far as the wall and Nunez came all the way around to score. Rays’ pitcher Chris Archer had a homer and two earned runs added to his statistics because of this misplay. Again, why not let the common sense of the official scorer determine if it was a hit or an error.
And how about the scoring rule that says you can’t anticipate a double play in scoring? On the play that ended the game Tuesday night, Nunez grounded to Riddle at short who tagged the bag for the force but his throw to first went wild allowing Martinez to score the winning run. If Martinez had not been at third and scored, the terrible throw that Riddle made would not have been charged as an error even if Nunez would have been out easily on a good throw.
Because Martinez advanced a base on the wild throw there was an error charged but, if he had thrown wild with no runner on third and Nunez had stopped at first, there would have been no error charged. Again, substituting the scorer’s judgment for the ridiculous rule would be fairer to all involved, especially in the age of instant replay where the scorer can easily determine if the runner would have been out or safe without the error.
These three situations are easily fixed and would make the records more accurately reflect what happened in a game and would penalize or reward the responsible defensive player while accurately reflecting what the offensive player did.
While the Baseball Gods are considering my suggestions, they might think about charging a pitcher with a walk when he hits a batter, after all they have the same result and it would accurately show how many times a pitcher allowed a batter to reach base without putting the ball in play.
Enough of my rant about my pet peeves for today. In my former work life, when asked why we did something we did the way we did, we would say it was anthropological, we do it that way because we always did it that way. I am reasonably sure they will be doing it all the same way 100 years from now.