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Poor Kazmir. October 17, 2008

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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Last night, Scott Kazmir pitched 6 scoreless innings  in ALCS game 5, giving up 2 hits and 3 walks but striking out 7 batters. He totalled up to a game score of 72 points. His bullpen then proceeded to give up 8 runs, allowing the Red Sox to come back and win the game (thus extending the series to game 5).

Has Scotty suffered the greatest postseason indignity ever? Nope. Not even close. That honor belongs to Mike Mussina of the 1997 Orioles.

Using Baseball Reference’s Play Index, I took a look at pitchers with 6.0 innings or more and 0 earned runs, but whose team lost the game, and sorted by game score. I was surprised how many there were – 38 since 1903, when Cy Young pitched a seven-inning, one-run, 0-earned-run performance. They didn’t track game score at the time, but if my cocktail napkin is correct, he would have come in at 71 (owing mostly to the lack of strikeouts). In 15 of those, the starting pitcher lose the game when his defense gave up an unearned run on his watch. I’ll disqualify them, because I think the indignity is greater when you leave eligible for the win. (The highest game score in that case was John Smoltz, who score 79 points in the 1996 World Series for the Braves. He gave up 4 hits and one unearned run, striking out 10, in an 8-inning performance. Criminally unsupported, he lost the game 1-0.)

In 1997’s ALCS game 6, Mike Mussina pitched 8 scoreless innings, giving up 1 hit and 2 walks, striking out 10. In 8 innings, he managed to hold a lineup including Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome and David Justice scoreless. The game went to the 11th inning, at which point Todd Fernandez hit a two-out solo home run. Jose Mesa saved the game, 1-0. Mussina’s game score was 88, his highest postseason game score ever (although he had set the mark at 80 just 4 days prior, also in a 1-run loss). In the regular season, Moose has gone to 88 or better 13 times, with two one-hit shutouts topping the list at 98 each.

Kazmir, meanwhile, has made three postseason appearances, at game scores of 30, 46, and 72. His top regular season game score is 91, which is also the only time he’s beaten Moose’s 88. (His second-best game score is 84.) He’s still young. He’s got a lot of time to be as criminally unsupported as Mussina.

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