baseball

Most unusual pitcher wins of 2022

It’s Thanksgiving, which means it’s time to take stock of what we’re thankful for. Every baseball fan is familiar with certain moments, outcomes and games attributed to luck — things that feel extra worthy of gratefulness. Sometimes, it’s a ball that seems like a certain flyout off the bat carrying a homer. Other times, it’s a pitcher earning the win on a day he wasn’t at his best.

Whether it’s thanks to strong run support, a well-placed line drive or a lucky bounce, sometimes you end up in the win column regardless of how well you pitched. To be clear: a win is a win, and this is all in good fun. But sometimes a box score line really stands out, and taking a look at these has become an annual tradition. We did this in 2021, 2020 and 2019.

With those concepts in mind, here are seven times this season a pitcher had reason to give thanks.

Matt Brash, SEA: April 17 vs. Astros

Stats: 5 1/3 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 6 BB
Final score: SEA 7, HOU 2

Brash’s six walks were tied for the most by a pitcher who got a win this season (Glen Otto, Aug. 15, and Shohei Ohtani, Sept. 23), and he was the first to do it. Brash began the game by issuing a five-pitch walk to Jose Altuve, but got a strike ’em out, throw ’em out double play later in the inning and did not allow a run in the frame. In each of the first four innings, Brash walked at least one batter – two in the second – and got some form of double play. His sixth and final walk came to what would be his last batter, Alex Bregman, with one out, after Michael Brantley had hit a two-run home run. Paul Sewald took over and got two quick strikeouts, meaning that none of the six batters Brush walked in the game came around to score. That’s one way to issue six walks and still get the win, along with the 6-2 Seattle lead when Brash left the game.

José Urquidy, HOU: May 17 at Red Sox

Stats: 5 IP, 12 H, 4 R, 0 BB
Final score: HOU 13, BOS 4

Urquidy’s 12 hits allowed weren’t just the most by a winning pitcher in 2022, they were the most by a pitcher who got a win since 2018, when it happened twice in a four-day span in September. Baseball. Urquidy allowed multiple hits in each inning he pitched. But the hits didn’t end up mattering much because of what his team did at the plate. The Astros hit five homers off Nathan Eovaldi in the second inning, tying an MLB record for home runs in an inning. By the end of that frame, it was 9-1, Houston. That’ll put any starter in a good spot to win.

Alex Cobb, SF: May 17 at Rockies

Stats: 5 1/3 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 1 BB
Final score: SF 10, COL 7

That’s right – two of these games happened on the same day, because baseball. In a game that fit right in at its venue, Coors Field, Cobb became the first pitcher to get a win while allowing at least seven runs since the start of the ’20 season. Cobb entered the bottom of the sixth having allowed two runs. But he then gave up four straight singles to start the inning, with the latter two scoring a run each. After a strikeout with runners on first and third, Cobb allowed a three-run homer to Randal Grichuk to cap a five-run inning, bringing the hurler’s total allowed to seven and ending his outing. Of course, he left with a lead, thanks to the Giants scoring 10 runs through the top of the sixth, and got the win.

Yu Darvish, SD: June 7 vs. Mets

Stats: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB
Final score: SD 7, NYM 0

At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be much to be thankful for here, other than perhaps an offense that racked up seven runs. But upon closer examination, Darvish hit three batters with pitches. That’s the most by a pitcher who got the win in a game in 2022. He was otherwise practically spotless, with just two hits and no walks allowed. Winning while hitting three batters isn’t unheard of – two pitchers did so in ’21, too – but doing so while also allowing fewer hits than batters hit is rarer. Darvish was just the 16th pitcher since at least 1901 to get a win with at least three hit batsmen and fewer hits allowed than HBPs. That list includes Chris Heston’s three hit batters on June 9, 2015, in his no-hitter, also against the Mets.

Kyle Wright, ATL: June 23 vs. Giants

Stats: 5 1/3 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 1 BB
Final score: ATL 7, SF 6

Wright led the MLB with 21 wins, so his making an appearance here shouldn’t be much of a surprise. In this particular win, he allowed 13 baserunners, the most by a winning pitcher this season. The 13 consisted of 10 hits, two hits by pitches and a walk. In the first inning, he allowed three straight singles with one out before a frame-ending double play. In fact, Wright induced double plays in each of the first four innings, which is a big part of how you make 13 baserunners not impact the game negatively. The Braves were one of two teams since the start of 2018 to induce four ground-ball double plays in the first four innings of a game, along with the Cardinals earlier in June. He left the game leading, 7-4, and despite two additional runs by the Giants later in the game, Atlanta never relinquished the lead, and Wright got the win.

JT Brubaker, PIT: June 30 vs. Brewers

Stats: 6 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 BB
Final score: PIT 8, MIL 7

Brubaker didn’t just allow seven hits, he allowed six extra-base hits, tied for the most by a pitcher who got a win this season (Chad Kuhl, May 28). None of the six was a home run, though, which contributed to the overall positive outcome. He allowed five doubles and a triple. They were mostly spread out, aside from two innings that included multiple Brewers extra-base hits. When Brubaker left the game, it was 7-4 Pirates. The bullpen allowed three more runs, all in the ninth, but the Pirates tacked on an eighth run first, so Brubaker still got the win.

Paul Blackburn, OAK: Aug. 4 at Angels

Stats: 5 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 1 BB
Final score: OAK 8, LAA 7

Those four runs on Blackburn’s line? They came as a result of four solo home runs, making him the first pitcher since Matthew Boyd in August 2019 to win a game while allowing at least four long balls. Blackburn allowed a solo homer in each of the first four innings: to Shohei Ohtani in the first, Kurt Suzuki in the second, Taylor Ward in the third and Jo Adell in the fourth. But he allowed just two more hits, and departed up 8-4 thanks in part to a six-run third by the A’s. The bullpen allowed three more solo homers, but did not give up the lead, so Blackburn got the win. It was the most runs, all on solo home runs, in a game of all time, and the A’s became just the sixth team to win a game allowing seven home runs.

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