August 21, 2017
Vin Mazzaro's Second-Worst Day
On May 5 of last year, the Giants had a bad day. Specifically, a couple of their pitchers had a bad day. In the top of the fifth inning, with his team already trailing 4-3, Matt Cain allowed a leadoff home run to Trevor Story. The next batter, Carlos Gonzalez, doubled. Nolan Arenado hit a grounder to shortstop Brandon Crawford, who bounced his throw to first base. Arenado was safe on the error, with Gonzalez advancing to third. The next batter, Gerardo Parra, singled, scoring Gonzalez, as Arenado advanced to second.
At this point, the Giants should have been out of the inning. Crawford’s error should have been the first out, Tomlinson’s the second out, and Rusin’s grounder the third out. Therefore, any subsequent runs would be unearned.
And there were plenty of subsequent runs!
Up to the point of Rusin’s groundout, the first out of the inning that really should’ve been the third out, the Rockies had scored four runs. Only two were earned: Story’s homer, and Parra’s single that scored Gonzalez. The third runner who scored, Arenado, had reached base via Crawford’s error, so his run was unearned. Parra, who’d singled, scored on that play too, but his run was unearned as well because he’d advanced to second on Tomlinson’s error. So there were four runs scored, two earned, two unearned.
The next nine runs were all unearned, because there would’ve been three outs if not for the two errors. But here’s the wrinkle: They were unearned to the Giants, not to Mazzaro. When Rusin grounded out, it should’ve been the third out of the inning. Any scoring after that was unearned for the team. But under baseball rules—9.16(i), to be exact—relief pitchers are on the hook for runs they allow. The rule states: