Thu May 26 11:37am EDT
But Berg wasn't even close.
In an epic display of wild pitching, Berg ascended the mound at Wrigley Field in the top of the second inning Wednesday night and threw 12 pitches to the New York Mets. Not one of them found the strike zone.
"Twelve wayward pitches," Mets broadcaster Gary Cohen said.
Berg walked all three batters he faced and forced in two runs before he was replaced in the Mets' five-run inning. New York won 7-4 in a six-inning, rain-shortened game.
He had walked only three in 12 innings coming in, but Jason Bay(notes), Daniel Murphy(notes) and Justin Turner(notes) each earned a free pass to first base before manager Mike Quade could replace Berg.
As it happened, Mets analyst Keith Hernandez could not help but make utterances such as:
"This is some serious El Stinkerino."
"Oh, my word!"
"Are we in Des Moines?"
"Jeez, where's the hook?"
A search conducted at Baseball-Reference.com, which keeps detailed strike/ball records going back to the 1950 season, revealed that Berg was wild in historical proportions.
Since at least '50, only one pitcher has appeared in a game — Kansas City's Miguel Asencio — and made more pitches than Berg without throwing any strikes. Making his major league debut, Asencio walked all four batters he faced, using the minimum 16 pitches, against the White Sox in 2002.
Berg equaled White Sox right-hander Sean Lowe, who walked three on 12 pitches against the Indians in 2001. He also equaled Florida's Sergio Mitre(notes), who missed the strike zone on 12 pitches in a 2006 game against the Nationals. However, Mitre walked two and hit a batter, so it's up to you whether you think his performance was wilder.
That's it. That's the list. So what happened to Berg?
Brenly, a former manager and big league catcher, put it like this:
"It's not a matter of mechanics or your throwing arm or anything else at this point. It's between the ears."
Brenly made another point about the outing: Berg didn't get the benefit of the doubt from umpire Dan Iassogna even when he did find the strike zone:
Well, look at that. He wuz robbed on two calls that should have been strikes! (Thanks to BrooksBaseball.net, which keeps track of data on every pitch.)
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