On August 20, San Francisco Giants starter Matt Cain, after an excellent seven and two-thirds innings against the Florida Marlins, left the game ahead 5-2. Giants reliever Tyler Walker got the last out in the eighth, and with the score unchanged, closer Brian Wilson came in in the top of the ninth. His job: save Cain’s victory.
But Wilson gave up a lead-off double, retired the next two batters, and then gave up a single and a three-run homer to tie the game.
The Giants scored a run in the bottom of the ninth to win 6-5, and by the scoring rules Wilson got the win. What the—?
He pitched a truly lousy one-half inning and gave up three runs, thereby yanking a win out of Cain’s pocket…and although Wilson had nothing at all to do with the winning run, he got the win.
As a kid, I was a baseball rulebook nerd. I know the rubric for determining winning pitchers:
• Credit the starting pitcher with a game won only if he has pitched at least five complete innings and his team not only is in the lead when he is replaced but remains in the lead the remainder of the game. • The “must pitch five complete innings” rule in respect to the starting pitcher shall be in effect for all games of six or more innings. In a five-inning game, credit the starting pitcher with a game won if he has pitched at least four complete innings and his team not only is in the lead when he is replaced but remains in the lead the remainder of the game. • When the starting pitcher cannot be credited with the victory because of the above provisions and more than one relief pitcher is used, the victory shall be awarded on the following basis:
—When, during the tenure of the starting pitcher, the winning team assumes the lead and maintains it to the finish of the game, credit the victory to the relief pitcher judged by the scorer to have been the most effective. —The winning relief pitcher shall be the one who is the pitcher of record when his team assumes the lead and maintains it to the finish of the game. —Exception: Do not credit a victory to a relief pitcher who is ineffective in a brief appearance, when a succeeding relief pitcher pitches effectively in helping his team maintain the lead. This pitcher will be credited with a save, the original succeeding relief pitcher with the victory.
This was one of those times where the official scorer (a sportswriter “honored” with the authority) should have expanded his “exception” discretion by giving Tyler Walker’s one-batter-faced/one-batter-out the win. Yeah, I know Walker was not a “succeeding” relief pitcher, but come on! There comes a time when even factotums like official scorers must protest.
At least Wilson was tagged with a blown save.