Monday, October 6, 2014


Quickly. It's obvious that Giants' swing man Yusmeiro Petit's six scoreless innings in SF's 18-inning win in Game Two of their NLDS vs. the Washington Nationals was nothing less than a superb performance.

But just how rare is it? Who are Petit's counterparts in length of scoreless relief innings in a single game?

Interestingly, none of the other six names on the list with him (all with at least six scoreless relief IP) did their thing in extra-inning games.

Ray Collins (not the actor who played Lt. Tragg on Perry Mason, or Boss Jim Gettys in Citizen Kane...), had the first such game, and it's still the longest scorleess relief performance in the post-season. Collins allowed five hits and no runs over seven innings for the Red Sox in Game 6 of the 1912 World Series, replacing the forgotten Buck O'Brien after he allowed five runs in the first. (O'Brien, who won 20 games for the Sox in 1912, lost twice to the New York Giants in that post-season and was never any good after that.)

The Indians' famous bragster Duster Mails, having gone 7-0 down the stretch during a tumultuous 1920 AL pennant race, got the quick call in the first inning of Game Three vs. Brooklyn. Mails stopped the Robins (it was the second and last pennant for Brooklyn's Wilbert Robinson) on just three hits over 6 2/3 innings, but Brooklyn won the game, 2-1. Mails was heard from again later in the Series, shutting out the Robins, 1-0, in Game Six. (Revenge was sweet for Duster, who'd failed an audition with Brooklyn in 1916.)

Forty-six years later, Moe Drabowsky relieved Dave McNally in Game One of the 1966 series between the Orioles and the Dodgers (who, at this moment at least, have a chance to reconnect in the Fall Classic again this year). It was the third inning, and manager Hank Bauer showed Sparky Anderson just what a "quick hook" was when the Dodgers chipped away at the Orioles' early lead. Drabowsky threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings. The Dodgers never scored another run in the Series.

In 1971, Bruce Kison replaced Luke Walker in the first as the Pirates struggled to contain the Orioles in Game Four. (The O's held a 2-1 lead in the Series at that point). Kison's 6 1/3 scoreless innings (allowing just one hit) allowed Pittsburgh to get back in the game. They won it, 4-3, and went on to beat Baltimore in seven games.

In 1999, Pedro Martinez took the mound in the fourth inning for the Red Sox after Bret Saberhagen and Derek Lowe had each been pounded. His six scoreless innings (eight K's) allowed the Sox to lace up their hitting shoes and carve out a 12-8 win in Game 5 of the ALDS.

The most recent since Petit was veteran lefty reliever Darren Oliver, who blanked the Cardinals for six innings in Game Three of the 2006 NLCS. Oliver's Mets lost the game, 5-0, and eventually lost the series, four games to three.

You may be wondering what is the record for the most scoreless relief innings in a game. Of course, Forman et fils can help you with that (at least back to 1914). The record is held by someone that neither we nor you nor anyone's dog named Boo will know--a pitcher named Bob Osborn (no relation to the longtime TCM host). Fourteen shutout innings for the Cubs vs. the Boston Braves, on May 17, 1927. (The Cubs won, 4-3.)

There is no truth to the rumor that Calvin Coolidge read of Osborn's achievement and decided not to run for re-election.

The full list of 10+ IP scoreless relief appearances is interesting, but we'll save that for another time. One teaser: the most recent pitcher to appear on this list: Dick Tidrow, with 10 2/3 scoreless innings against the Twins on August 25, 1976. You can bet the ranch that you'll never see something like that again in several lifetimes...