On June 27, 2010, the Pittsburgh Pirates were trailing the Oakland A’s, 3-2, in the top of the ninth inning. Pedro Alvarez represented the tying run on first base, with Jose Tabata at the plate and two outs. Then this happened:
That was the last time a Major League game ended with a runner being hit by a fair ball for the final out. Until today. This afternoon, the Angels were playing the Giants in San Francisco, and after coming into the top of the ninth down 5-2, they put together a bit of a rally, scoring twice to pull within a run with runners on first and third and two outs. Matt Joyce hit a hard ground ball into the shift on the right side of the infield, but Giants second baseman Joe Panik never got the chance to try to field the ball and throw Joyce out, because pinch runner Taylor Featherston couldn’t avoid the ball:
That is the first time in nearly five years that a game has ended that way. How long will we have to wait to see it happen again?
Oh, about five hours.
Down the California coast, the Dodgers took on the Diamondbacks in game two of their three-game series. With a 6-4 lead in the top of the ninth, reliever Chris Hatcher had two outs and Arizona catcher Jordan Pacheco on first when outfielder David Peralta hit a hard ground ball up the middle. As second baseman Howie Kendrick ranged to his right to try to make the play, the ball struck Pacheco, who was running on the pitch and appeared to never see the ball:
Both Joyce and Peralta are credited with hits on those plays, with an unassisted putout of the runner being credited to the closest fielder, which happened to be the second basemen Panik and Kendrick in these cases. The interesting scoring rule brings up a funny note from Twitter user @johnnyfromnj, as passed along by ESPN’s Jayson Stark:
@jaysonst Last nite in the 8th Casilla faced 2 batters, got 2 outs, but a blown save. Today he faced 2 batters, both got hits & got a save.
That probably brings up an interesting point about the uselessness of the save statistic, but that’s a discussion for another day. For tonight, let’s just enjoy the quirkiness of baseball.