May 17, 2011 – Vin Mazzaro Gives Up Most Earned Runs Since WWII, Indians Win 19-1
Josh Tomlin faced off with Kyle Davies to start off a weeknight series in Kansas City. The game started off inauspiciously for the Royals, as Davies walked three out of the first four batters and was pulled after recording only one out.
Coming in with the bases loaded, Adcock got Travis Hafner to strike out on three straight pitches. Orlando Cabrera recorded the Indians first two runs by singling Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo home. Carlos Santana got caught in a run down, ending the inning.
Adcock struggled through the second inning as well, giving up one run on two hits. After walking Carlos Santana to lead off the top of the third, Royals manager Ned Yost made the call to the bullpen for Vin Mazzaro.
Mazzaro had proven a serviceable starting pitcher with Oakland through the 2009 and 2010 seasons. On May 10th, the Royals called him up from the AAA Omaha Storm Chasers to fill a spot in the rotation vacated by the injured Bruce Chen. Rather than deplete his bullpen, Yost elected to bring in Mazzaro who was originally scheduled to start the next day.
Besides a wild pitch to Tribe left fielder Travis Buck, the third inning was largely without incident. What followed was a combination of bad command, good hitting, and old fashioned luck. The stars aligned to bring about a stat line not seen since the World War II era.
In the top of the fourth, things began to unravel for Mazzaro. Matt LaPorta led of the inning with a line drive single to right. Asdrubal Cabrera drove in Jack Hannahan. In a normal situation, most managers would have pulled Mazzaro after Travis Hafner’s three-run double. Already on his second starting pitcher, Yost decided to press on.
Still with two outs, Orlando Cabrera drove in Hafner with a single down the right field line. Travis Buck singled, and then was driven in by a Matt LaPorta double. Hannahan singled, and then Michael Brantley’s three-run home made the score 10-0. Asdrubal Cabrera, the 14th batter of the inning–struck out to bring the top of the 4th to a close.
Billy Butler got the Royals on the board in the bottom of the 4th, but the Royals could only manage one run.
Improbably, Mazzaro emerged from the Royals dugout to pitch the top of the 5th. Choo led off with a fly out to deep right. Carlos Santana hit a ground ball double to right field. Mazzaro walked Hafner and Orlando Cabrera dribbled a weak ground ball to third base to load the bases. Travis Buck poked a line drive single in to left-center, scoring Santana.
Finally, Yost made the call for reliever Jeremy Jeffress. Matt LaPorta welcomed Jeffress to the game with a two-run double and Jack Hannahan drove in Buck on a grounder. This pinned a total of fourteen earned runs on Mazzaro.
His ERA for 2 ⅓ innings of work was an astronomical 22.74. The last pitcher to give up 14 earned was the A’s Mike Oquist who did so over five innings in a start in 1988. Even Bob Feller is on the list of 14-ers. He gave up fourteen runs over seven innings against the Yankees in 1938. However, Mazzaro was the first to give up 14 earned runs in relief since Les McCrab in 1942, and the only MLBer to do it in less than three innings pitched.
The Indians cruised to a 19-1 victory, and Mazzaro was promptly sent back to Omaha. At the time, many writers and fans speculated that this historic defeat would be the end of Vin’s career. In fact, Mazzaro was called back to the Royals on June 7. He finished the season with a record of 4-3 in 18 mostly relief appearances.
Mazzaro was quoted in a post-game interview, “Some of the plays didn’t go my way. It’s a funny game. You’ve just got to keep battling and attack the zone.”