CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Baseball Pitcher Puzzler - Solution

Clearly the answer is that the pitcher doesn’t throw any pitches.

There are many possible situations where a pitcher that did not throw any pitches could be the winning pitcher. But the most predictable is the situation described in the puzzler answer, tie game, throwing out a baserunner to end the inning, and having his team score the winning run in the next frame. By the way, this can happen in any inning.

It only wins the game if it happens in the last inning.

“Frame”? are they bowling or is that an actual baseball term?

He could play, as pitcher, all nine innings, never throw a pitch and still win the game. Of course the puzzler says he can’t start so he’d have to go in as relief.

Hokiedad"By the way, this can happen in any inning."
You are correct. It has happened only twice in the majors, and both times were in the last decade. B.J Ryan of the Orioles beat the Tigers in the early 2000's without throwing a pitch, and he entered the game in the 7th inning.
littlemouse"It only wins the game if it happens in the last inning."
Once again you have shown that you have no idea what you are talking about.

Ok, boys, let’s play nice.

@Mechaniker -

From what I’ve read, it has happened at least twice, not only twice. B.J. Ryan got his win in 2003, and Alan Embree picked up one on 7/8/2009, picking off a runner in the 8th inning. The catch is that they didn’t seem to keep track of pitches that well, so records get fuzzy before 1990… It could have happened more than twice, but we don’t seem to have proof either way.

Of course the puzzler answer partially botches it by giving extra unnecessary info. It doesn’t have to be the ninth inning, and you don’t have to have 2 outs when lefty comes in as a relief pitcher. In fact you can have no outs… the only restriction is that you’ll need a baserunner for him to pick off for each out that the team still needs to end the inning. Of course there are other ways, such as a batter being called out for using an altered bat, etc, without Lefty throwing a pitch…

An interesting side note - a few days after Embree won his game against the Nationals without throwing a pitch, Nationals pitcher Joel Hanrahan won a game without even being in the ballpark. Unlike Embree or Ryan, Hanrahan threw pitches, going through the top half of the 11th. The game was then suspended with it tied, and the Nationals won the game over two months later when they resumed play and the Nats hit a home run in the bottom of the 11th. Hanrahan was the pitcher of record and earned the win - but Hanrahan had been traded prior to the game being resumed, so he wasn’t there for the win. I guess it could have been weirder, though, had he been traded to Houston - then he could have been the winning pitcher while on the losing team’s roster.

I’m assuming that in the Hanrahan/Nationals game which you mentioned above, Hanrahan was pitching for the Nats against Houston. The game was suspended and continued two months later. Let’s suppose by that time Hanrahan had been traded to Houston. If Hanrahan had pitched the bottom of the 11th when the Nats scored the winning run, Hanrahan would have been both the winner and loser of that game.

[But I think baseball rules prevent players from playing a suspended game if they were not on the roster at the time of suspension.]

I sort of remember the Enbree game. I think he was pitching for Colorado at the time.

Of course, Lefty could have fixed the game himself. Knowing that he would collect a $1000 bonus if he won the game, he could have gone over to the opposing team’s dugout and offered a $500 bribe if the opposing team forfeited the game at the start. As the announced starting pitcher, Lefty would have been credited with the win.

I’ve got some idea of the subtle rules of golf, but not of baseball. What does it mean for a pitcher to “win” the game? I’ve always thought the winning pitcher was the one who through the most innings. Is the def’n instead the pitcher that was pitching at the time (or who last pitched) when the game was finally won?

If so, it seems sort of unfair. Say the startting pitcher throws 12 innings, it’s 2 out, and a 3-2 count, and is taken out with a 0-0 tie game. The relief pitche comes in, throws one pitch and strikes the final opposing batter out. Then his team next at bat, the first player hits a home run, and the game is over. Does the relief pitcher really get credit for the win?

Is the def’n instead the pitcher that was pitching at the time (or who last pitched) when the game was finally won

Close…

If the starting pitcher is winning and is then pulled in the 6th inning…and the team maintains the lead and also wins the game…then the pitcher who started is credited with the win.

If the starting pitcher is winning and is the pulled in the 6th inning…but the team looses the lead but then regains the lead…the starting pitcher is NOT credited with the win.

For GeorgeSanJose

Here is the rule from the Official Rules of Baseball:

10.17 WINNING AND LOSING PITCHER

(a) The official scorer shall credit as the winning pitcher that pitcher whose team assumes a lead while such pitcher is in the game, or during the inning on offense in which such pitcher is removed from the game, and does not relinquish such lead, unless

(1) such pitcher is a starting pitcher and Rule 10.17(b) applies; or
(2) Rule 10.17© applies.

(b) If the pitcher whose team assumes a lead while such pitcher is in the game, or during the inning on offense in which such pitcher is removed from the game, and does not relinquish such lead, is a starting pitcher who has not completed

(1) five innings of a game that lasts six or more innings on defense, or (2) four innings of a game that lasts five innings on defense, then the official scorer shall credit as the winning pitcher the relief pitcher, if there is only one relief pitcher, or the relief pitcher who, in the official scorer’s judgment was the most effective, if there is more than one relief pitcher.

© The official scorer shall not credit as the winning pitcher a relief pitcher who is ineffective in a brief appearance, when at least one succeeding relief pitcher pitches effectively in helping his team maintain its lead. In such a case, the official scorer shall credit as the winning pitcher the succeeding relief pitcher who was most effective, in the judgment of the official scorer.

You are right that the rule is sometimes unfair.

If you would like to learn more about baseball rules, for example how the losing pitcher is determined, you can find them at:
http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/official_info/official_rules/foreword.jsp

Thanks. Yes, it’s sort of complicated.

When I read the rules @Dink Singer posted, it appears to me that in my scenerio above, the relief pitcher who only throws one pitch total would be credited with the win.