Monday, April 14, 2008
Great game, even if Timlin's performance was nailbiting. I must say I can't remember Javier Lopez ever pitching this well.
But anyway, on SoSH there was some discussion about whether Delcarmen would qualify for a save (no), which moved on to discussion over whether parts (a) and (c) of the save rule were redundant:
The official scorer shall credit a pitcher with a save when such pitcher meets all four of the following conditions:i.e. could someone be the "finishing pitcher in a game won by his team" but not get credit for at least a third of an inning pitched?
(a) He is the finishing pitcher in a game won by his team;
(b) He is not the winning pitcher;
(c) He is credited with at least a third of an inning pitched; and
(d) He satisfies one of the following conditions:
(1) He enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least one inning;
(2) He enters the game, regardless of the count, with the potential tying run either on base, or at bat or on deck (that is, the potential tying run is either already on base or is one of the first two batters he faces); or
(3) He pitches for at least three innings.
My theory is it would be possible for the finishing pitcher to not have 1/3 of an inning is if he comes on with a lead, and the game is called due to rain before anyone is out. Let's say a game is 8-5, Yankees at Sox. Top of 9th inning, bases loaded, no outs. Timlin comes on (this is a hypothetical, after all) and walks in a run. At this point the heavens open and it's impossible to continue, and they call the game. Timlin would be the finishing pitcher in a game won by the Sox (8-6), but have zero innings pitched. I presume the seemingly redundant 1/3 inning clause is what prevents this completely ineffectual outing from counting as a save.
Which led to further discussions on when called games end, since others argued that the game would revert to the 8th inning in this scenario. But rule 4.11(d) states that"A called game ends at the moment the umpire terminates play, unless it becomes a suspended game pursuant to Rule 4.12(a)". (emphasis mine)
Take this Indians-Yankees game from 2001. Cleveland was leading 5-4, scored 2 runs in the top of the 6th; the Yankees managed to get a Posada AB (which led to a Diaz error on a foul fly), and then game was called due to rain. So inning #6 was not finished, and the record stands that Cleveland won 7-4 including Diaz's error in the bottom of the 6th. Interestingly enough, in the game above, Rincon got the save for pitching the top of the 5th inning. My guess is if someone had come out to pitch to Posada in the 6th, Rincon wouldn't have got the save, and neither would the other pitcher.
The rule on reverting to the previous half-inning was apparently changed in 1978 as a result of this Yankees-Orioles game, in which the Yankees scored 5 at the top of 7th that were wiped off the board because the game was called. Presumably the rule change was to prevent teams in the Orioles' position from just stalling until the game was called in their favour (under new rules, the situation would produce a suspended game).
If you look at Retrosheet's list of 'lost homers', i.e. homers that didn't count in the records due to games being called and other reasons, you'll notice that pre-1978 people 'lost' homers in late innings (see the game of 8/25/1975: "Under existing rules, if a lead had changed and an inning was not yet complete, the score reverted back to the last completed inning." - the wording of which seems indicate the rules on reverting were different from now) but after that all 'lost' homers came only in games that were called before the regulation 5 innings were played.
So I would guess my scenario still holds, allowing a pitcher to finish a game in which his team won without 1/3 innings pitched. Which is to say, MLB's save rule is not necessarily the best of stats, but it isn't redundant.
Singapore Sox Fan