Baseball Esoterica

October 08, 2005

Sox's Sixth Surprise

I thought I'd do a special weekend post on a bit of the boxscore from last night's Sox-Sox game.

Did you happen to see the game? Well I didn't. I checked out the boxscore and the line that stood out to me was Damaso Marte's:

IP H R ER BB SO HR PC-ST ERA
F Garcia
5.0
5
3
3
4
1
3
98-58
5.40
D Marte (H, 1) 0.0 1 0 0 2 0 0 16-7 ###
Wow, I thought, how'd that happen? The next pitcher must have gotten out of it! But I looked up and saw that Boston had actually scored a run in the sixth. Huh? So I proceeded to the play-by-play and, as it turns out, this was the unusual turn of events:
  Garcia pitching for Chicago
  • Ramirez homered
Marte relieved Garcia
  • Nixon singled
  • Mueller walked
  • Olerud walked
Hernandez relieved Marte
  • Varitek popped out
  • Graffanino popped out
  • Damon struck out
Now that doesn't happen every day!

This sequence demonstrates a case in point why a middle reliever's ERA is less than meaningful and holds are even less so: Marte comes into the middle of the game (the sixth) and retires none of the three batters he faces. If Hernandez allows a routine fly ball, or a bases-clearing double, Marte would have been charged with all those runs (and his ERA would be...ooooh...infinite). But because of Hernandez's heroics, he comes out spotless...and with a hold! Hernandez, actually, for his three nearly perfect innings in a one-run, series-clinching game against the defending world champs, got a hold, too. That's gotta be the worst, most meaningless hold of all time followed by perhaps the most meaningful!

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