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Helping Your Own Cause July 10, 2011

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Yesterday, Cliff Lee of the Phillies scored the only run for his team by homering to right center in the bottom of the third inning. Cliff’s lead held until Dan Uggla led off the fifth with a homer of its own, and the score stayed tied until the top of the eleventh when Alex Gonzalez and Brian McCann batted three in for the Braves to set up Craig Kimbrel for the save. Lee’s homer prompted a couple of searches that led readers here – specifically, people are curious about pitchers hitting home runs.

It’s uncommon, but not as rare as I’d expected. Fifteen home runs this year (out of 2410, so about 0.6% of MLB home runs) were hit by pitchers. They’re last in the majors for home runs by position – even pinch hitters hit more (54) – but third from the bottom are designated hitters with 154. Interestingly, even doubling DHs’ home runs puts them third (behind first basemen and right fielders).

One pitcher – Zach Duke of Arizona – has hit two home runs, with the remainder hitting only one each. The World’s Worst Sports Blog’s favorite player, Yovani Gallardo, combined with Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum to put up three pitcher homers for Milwaukee, tying Duke and Barry Enright‘s Diamondback total. No pitcher has surrendered more than one home run to another pitcher, but two have both allowed one and scored one: Greinke and Travis Wood. Besides Lee, four pitchers – Enright, Wood, Zach Britton, and Tim Hudson – have homered to break a 0-0 tie.

This year or last year, no game had home runs hit by pitchers from both teams. I scanned manually, and there were a few dates with multiple home runs by pitchers, but I couldn’t find a game with home runs by both teams’ pitchers until I got back to April 13, 1997. The Montreal Expos’ Carlos Perez homered off of Colorado starter Kevin Ritz, who was lifted (in the top of the fifth) after one more batter for reliever Darren Holmes. Holmes allowed another earned run, but got out of the inning and then led off the bottom of the fifth with a homer of his own. Pitchers for both teams homered not only in the same game, but the same inning, separated by only six batters.



1. adc0317 - January 9, 2012

Okay, here’s a question. How often have two pitchers from the same team homered in the same game? Fairly unusual, I would think. I know of at least one time. On August 20, 1961 (seems like everyone was hitting home runs that year), Jack Kralick and Al Schroll of the Twins homered against Angels in Los Angeles.

tomflesher - January 19, 2012

Hi – thanks for the comment! It would in fact be fairly unusual. That was the last time it’s happened – I checked it out here. The other three games were both considerably earlier.

I doubt that feat will ever happen again, considering the specialized nature of relievers now. The only ways I could see two pitchers both homering in the same game would be an extra-innings game where a starter or position player was used in relief in the late innings (imagine Livan Hernandez or Michael Cuddyer relieving Johan Santana) or a starter leaving early due to injury or ineffectiveness and being replaced by a hard-hitting long man like Micah Owings.

Just as a sanity check, I looked to see how many teams had more than one pitcher get a hit in the same game; even that’s fairly rare.

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