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The Vultures of Capistrano April 10, 2014

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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As with the swallows returning to Capistrano, every April brings the return of the Vultures to Major League Baseball.

A vulture win is a special kind of decision for a reliever. In its purest form, it occurs when a pitcher enters the game in a save situation – usually, a lead of 3 runs or fewer, although a larger lead is allowable if the tying run comes to the plate no later than two batters after the batter currently at the plate – and promptly blows the save before the team takes the lead back to win the game. Some commentators require that the pitcher then leave the game, allowing the win to occur through no fault of the pitcher’s own; others will allow a pitcher to acquit himself by closing the game and still call it a vulture win – that is, any game in which a pitcher has both a blown save and a win is a vulture win. The World’s Worst Sports Blog follows the latter convention, due to it being easier to find in stat sheets.

The first vulture win of the season was picked up by Kansas City’s Wade Davis on April 5th. Davis entered the game in the 8th inning to a 3-1 lead and promptly allowed a single to Marcus Siemen before hitting Jose Abreu with a pitch. Dayan Viciedo then walked to load the bases. Conor Gillaspie singled to bring Siemen home, and Paul Konerko hit a sacrifice fly to score Abreu. Magically, the lead was gone; having blown the save, Davis promptly struck out Alejandro de Aza and coerced a line out from Alexei Ramirez. In the next inning, Salvador Perez scored Alex Gordon to re-establish the lead, which was finally saved by Greg Holland.

The second was another pure vulture win by Tony Watson on April 8th. Watson came in to pitch the 7th for Pittsburgh; ahead 6-5, all it took was a single and stolen base by Emilio Bonifacio (plus a sacrifice from Ryan Kalish) to set up Anthony Rizzo‘s tying RBI. Hilariously, Watson then struck out Nate Schierholtz and got Luis Valbueno to line out, having summarily blown the save. In the 8th, Russell Martin sacrifice-flied Starlin Marte home to take back the lead, earning the W for Watson. Mark Melancon got the hold for the setup, and Jason Grilli saved the game for the Pirates.

Finally, Dan Otero of the As just last evening picked up a vulture win of the “kept pitching” variety. Otero relieved Jim Johnson in a 4-3 game in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded, then allowed Brian Dozier to sacrifice-fly Kurt Suzuki in to tie the game. Nonetheless, Otero pitched a clean tenth; in the top of the eleventh, Derek Norris homered himself, Daric Barton, and Alberto Callaspo in. Otero allowed two hits and a walk, but no runs, in the eleventh for the win.