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A Washington Pitcher Goes Winless
PLUS: BRAVES-PHILLIES SERIES SEEMS LIKE 1993 NLDS RERUN
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Did you know…
None of the 62 home runs Aaron Judge hit this season came on a 3-0 count . . .
Boston’s Michael Wacha holds a Master’s Degree against Judge, holding hi hitless in 15 at-bats and striking him out 10 times . . .
The last time the Mets won the World Series, only three players from their current team were alive (Max Scherzer, Adam Ottavino, and Darin Ruf) . . .
Before he held the Mets at bay in the first 2022 Wild-Card Game, San Diego’s Yu Darvish had a 5-0 lifetime record and 2.56 ERA in eight starts against them . . .
The Texas Rangers, seeking a permanent manager, will talk to Athletics bench coach Brad Ausmus, who has managed twice previously, and Boston bench coach Will Venable, who also has ties to president of baseball operations Chris Young . . .
With his Houston contract expiring again, here’s hoping age (74) doesn’t hurt Dusty Baker’s chances for a multi-year extension.
Paolo Espino’s near-record innings total without a win for Washington
By Andrew Sharp
When Paolo Espino took the mound to start the Nationals’ penultimate game of 2022, he was on the verge of becoming the pitcher who threw the most innings in a season without winning a game. In 18 previous starts, although his record was 0-8, he always had lasted at least four innings.
Facing the Mets in the second game of a doubleheader, Espino had thrown 113 innings and had moved to No. 2 on that dubious winless list in his loss to the Braves on September 27.
On September 12, Espino passed John Malarkey (100⅔ innings for the 1895 Washington Senators) to move into the top 10 on the list of most innings without an official victory.*
Alas, a record-setting performance was not to be. The first three Mets he faced homered. He loaded the bases on two walks and a single before allowing a sacrifice fly. A double scored a fifth run. Manager Dave Martinez came out to take the ball, and Espino walked off the mound, ending his shortest outing of the season. Both runners he left on base eventually scored. His final total: 113⅓ innings pitched and nine losses without a win.
He had needed to last just four and ⅓ innings to match Terry Felton, who was 0-13 over 117⅓ innings for the 1982 Minnesota Twins. But unlike Espino, who was in the Nationals’ rotation from early June until the end of the season, Felton made just six starts in his 48 appearances.
The pitcher Espino passed on the 27th, Diego Segui, started seven times in 40 trips to the mound for the 1977 Mariners. Of those with 100 or more innings pitched without a win, only Steve Gerkin, 0-12 for the 1945 Athletics, was a starter in more than half his appearance (12 of 21 games).
So Espino seems to be tops in one category: most starts in a season (19) without a victory. Even as fewer starters pitch deep into games, the rule that a starter most pitch at least five innings for a win remains. So middle, one-inning, relief pitchers often pick up so-called “cheap wins.” That’s one of the reasons a pitcher’s won-loss record is far less significant today than it once was.
Espino joined the Nationals’ starting rotation when young prospect Joan Adon, 1-12 with a 7.10 ERA, was sent down. In his starts, Espino left with the lead three times but went five innings in just one of them. Although he wasn’t the winning pitcher, the Nats actually won six of his starts, rallying after he left. Four of Espino’s losses came during the Nationals’ record 43-game stretch without a starting pitcher winning a game.
“The reason,” Nats beat writer Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post wrote, “is a combination of bad luck, Espino’s short leash as a long reliever-turned-starter, and Washington’s ineptitude for most of this season.”
Espino, born in Panama, was a 10th-round draft pick by Cleveland in 2006. He didn’t get a taste of the majors until 2017 when he was in six games with the Brewers and six with the Rangers. He didn’t make it back until 2020 with the Nationals.
*This list does not include an 1880 pitcher who played when a pitch was released 45 feet from home plate and a pitcher from a 1927 Negro Leagues team whose game data is incomplete.
Andrew C. Sharp is a retired newspaper journalist and SABR member who blogs about D.C. baseball at washingtonbaseballhistory.com
Braves-Phillies Series Has Hallmarks of 1993 Postseason Matchup
By Dan Schlossberg
Baseball history, like a pastrami sandwich, has a way of repeating itself.
Readers who were around in 1993 might be surprised but the current NL Division Series between the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies carries some eerie reminders of a different series nearly 30 years ago.
In 1993, the Braves resided in the National League West but needed every one of their 104 victories to finish one game ahead of the San Francisco Giants — after trailing by 10 games on July 22. They went 51-17, a .750 percentage, after acquiring Fred McGriff from San Diego in a deadline deal for three minor-leaguers.
In 2022, the Braves needed every one of their 101 wins to outlast the New York Mets in the National League East. They trailed by 10 1/2 games, the biggest deficit ever overcome by a championship Atlanta club. Like the 1993 Braves, they relied on power, leading the league in home runs, plus speed, defense, and starting pitching.
In postseason play, however, they faced a resilient Phillies team that had just completed a worst-to-first season. With no wild-card, the two teams went directly to the NL Championship Series without passing GO or collecting $200.
The Braves were gassed. “We felt like we were in the playoffs before the season ended,” Ron Gant said. “We used up so much energy in catching the Giants.”
In the ‘93 NLCS, Atlanta had a better batting average (.274 to .227) and earned run average (3.15 to 4.75) than Philadelphia but the Phils hit more homers and pitched better in relief, taking three one-run decisionst. The Braves also outscored the Phillies (33-23) but that resulted from a blowout in the second game.
Only once did the Phillies have more hits than the Braves in a 1993 playoff game. But they won in six games, beating future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux in the finale after the Gold Glove pitcher took a Mickey Morandini liner off his shin in the first inning.
“Could I have pitched better?” Maddux said later. “All I can tell you is I felt it.”
Lenny Dykstra, who had hit 19 regular-season homers for the Phils, hit two in the NLCS, including a 10th-inning shot off Mark Wohlers in Atlanta that made the difference in Game 5. Observers suggested the fleet center-fielder had bulked up with performance-enhancing substances.
Philadelphia not only stopped Atlanta’s two-year World Series run but also became the first NL East team to reach the Fall Classic since 1987 (they lost to Toronto as the Jays defended their 1992 world championship).
With Game 4 of this year’s Braves-Phillies duel set for Citizens Bank Park tomorrow, the final lines in this comparison remain to be written. Both teams have different home parks, different managers, and definitely different players.
In 1993, however, both teams were divisional champions. Not so this year, when the Phillies finished a distant third in the NL East but still managed to make the postseason after the playoffs were expanded to six teams (including two wild-cards) per league.
The Phils finished with an 87-75 mark, 14 games behind the Braves, but in an era when the Marlins have two world championships without ever finishing first, anything seems possible.
Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ is the author or co-author of 40 baseball books. His byline appears in forbes.com, USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Sports Collectors Digest, Memories & Dreams, Latino Sports, and other places. E.mail him at email@example.com.
“To be honest, I don’t know what I’m getting into.”
— Mets first baseman Pete Alonso on his first postseason experience
Before the Mets did it this year, the last team to squander a 10 1/2 game lead was the 1995 Angels, who led the AL East by that margin on Aug. 16 but ultimately lost to Seattle in an unscheduled playoff game . . .
The Mets lost six of their last seven against the Braves, all at Atlanta’s Truist Park . . .
San Diego slugger Manny Machado had 14 more homers than any teammate . . .
No wonder the Guardians won: they were the only AL Central team with a winning record . . .
AL Cy Young favorite Justin Verlander [Astros] posted a 2.37 ERA in 16 starts against teams with winning records . . .
Six active teams that have never won a World Series: Brewers, Mariners, Padres, Rangers, Rays, and Rockies.
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