September 15, 2010
Poor Jonathan Sanchez(notes), Barry Zito(notes) and their teammates in the bullpen. On separate occasions this year, each pitcher led a San Francisco Giants staff that allowed only one hit to its opponent. Each time their teams somehow went home with the type of 1-0 loss that qualifies among the rarest in baseball.
Sanchez's offensive abandonment occurred way back on April 20, when he pitched seven innings, but a Chase Headley(notes) single and a Scott Hairston(notes) sac fly in the fourth inning was all the San Diego Padres needed for the slim victory.
On Tuesday night, Zito decided he'd like to end his 11-start winless streak by putting together 5 2/3 innings of one-hit ball against the Los Angeles Dodgers and then turning it over to Brian Wilson(notes) and his bullpen. Alas, Juan Uribe(notes) booted a ball in the sixth, Reed Johnson(notes) came home to score and the Giants' bats reserved their usual right to remain silent. Despite his best efforts, Zito was again left looking like this (or this).
That the Giants have managed to send two entries to the Harvey Haddix Wall of Unfortunate One-Hit Losses in one season is no small feat. According to Baseball-Reference's Play-Index, a team has given up just one hit to its opponents and lost the game just 43 times since 1920. What's more is that it's only happened twice in a season in eight different years and only two previous teams have thrown two one-hit losses on the same calendar.
The last team to do it was the 1971 Kansas City Royals, but one of the losses was a shortened five-inning affair in which Royals pitchers only threw four innings.
Meanwhile, the 1965 Chicago Cubs started the club, but it took Sandy Koufax's perfect game on Sept. 9 (right) to complete the pair.
(Interestingly, it was the Dodgers who were the winners in the Cubs' other one-hit loss on May 15 that season.)
Tuesday's shortcoming was a special kind of frustrating for San Francisco fans, seeing as how the Giants are in hot pursuit of a playoff spot. How can a team with such great pitching be left in the lurch so many times by its offense?
On the bright side, no major league season since 1920 has ever seen a total of three one-hit losses. So the Giants' pitchers and their fans can probably rest easy knowing that it won't happen again.
On the other hand, if any team could figure out a way to do this three times, it'd probably be these Giants.