May 17, 2011
As many people have Twittered and tittered about by now, the 14 earned runs that Kansas City Royals reliever Vin Mazzaro(notes) allowed over the fourth and fifth innings in Monday's 19-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians were historically bad.
No pitcher since 1919 had given up as many runs in as short of a time (2 1/3 innings) than the 24-year-old right-hander did in the two touchdown effort against the Tribe. And, regardless of outing length, Mazzaro became only the third pitcher since 1947 to give up 14 earned runs in a single appearance.
(If you're thinking there are relievers who don't give up that many runs in an entire season, you're right. There have been 79 total seasons since 1947 — seven of them belonging to Mariano Rivera(notes) — that have seen a pitcher allow 13 or fewer earned runs while pitching 60 or more innings. )
"Some of the plays didn't go my way," Mazzaro said afterward. "It's a funny game."
Making matters worse, Mazzaro got more than just a simple butt swat and "you'll get 'em next time" after being pulled. Yes, Mazzaro earned a bus ticket to Triple-A Omaha after his season ERA rose to 22.74. That's quite an ego bruise after once being part of Oakland's promising stockpile of young pitchers and then being the main bait that convinced the Royals to trade outfielder David DeJesus(notes) to the A's last offseason.
But if you don't feel at least a little bit of sympathy for Mazzaro here, you have to be as crusty as Royals owner David Glass. Keeping that in mind, here are a few reasons for Mazzaro to look on the bright side as the sun dawns on a new day after a night in which the Royals' collective bullpen ERA rose almost a full run from 3.05 to 4.00:
• He wasn't charged with the loss. Indeed, the only reason Mazzaro was even in the game was because losing pitcher Kyle Davies(notes) had to leave his start with a sore right shoulder after recording only one out. And then the first guy out of the 'pen — Nate Adcock(notes) — could go no longer than 1 2/3 innings. Mazzaro actually got off to a nice start, recording three outs in the third after inheriting a runner at first from Adcock.
But the early need for digested innings forced Royals manager Ned Yost into an unbreakable belief that he wasn't going to decimate his bullpen after it had become nice and rested after a rainout on Sunday. And so Mazzaro was trotted out for the fifth inning after surrendering 10 runs in the fourth.
"My thinking was I could get through two or three innings with (Nate) Adcock, bring Mazzaro in there and, hopefully, get five innings out of him and keep us in the ballgame. Then go to the back-inning guys. But it didn't work out that way," [Yost told the Kansas City Star].
That stubbornness meant that Mazzaro — who had good reason to repeat Dante's lament in Clerks of "I'm not even supposed to be here today" — was forced to take the brunt of the Indians' damage, no matter what it was doing to his reputation or psyche.
• A little help here? Mazzaro was finally mercifully pulled with one out in the fifth inning after he had allowed a run (his 11th of the night) and loaded the bases. Jeremy Jeffress(notes) could have helped a brother out and kept Mazzaro out of the history books, but he instead allowed a two-run double to Matt LaPorta(notes) and a RBI groundout to Jack Hannahan(notes). All three runs were charged to Mazzaro, who likely took his offer of a free presidential platter from Gates Bar-B-Q off the table once Jeffress returned to the dugout.
• He has some good company: There have been 19 pitchers since 1919 to allow 14 or more earned runs in one game and Bob Feller and Ted Lyons — who would go onto Hall of Fame careers — are on that list. Of course, so are pitchers like Les McCrabb, Chubby Dean, Slick Castleman, Hod Lisenbee, Dutch Schesler and Flint Rehm, but, again, we're looking on the bright side of things here.
• It just wasn't his day: As baseball writer Joe Sheehan said tongue-in-cheek on Twitter, "Mazzaro just got unlucky with a .667 BABIP." (That was probably my favorite tweet of the night, though Jeff Passan's one about a "VIN number" comes close.)
• This, too, shall pass: It may not seem like it this morning, but Mazzaro's name probably won't become an eponym for getting shelled. (As in "Dude, that dude totally got Mazzaro'ed last night!") The last pitcher to give up 14 runs in an outing was Oakland's Mike Oquist against the Yankees in 1998 and I'm willing to bet that no one — except for maybe Oquist himself — would have been able to answer that question before Mazzaro's night came along. (Of course, Oquist's outing happened way before America's national pastime changed from baseball to reveling in the misfortune of others on the Internet, so I'm making no guarantees on this one.)
Follow Yahoo! Sports on Facebook and be the first to know about the most interesting stories of the day.