10 Most Unreliable, Game-Blowing Relief Pitchers in MLB Playoff History
With only three days of play thus far in the 2012 MLB playoffs, fans have witnessed some horrific and embarrassing relief performances already.
Saturday night's matchup between the San Francisco Giants and Cincinnati Reds saw two less-than-memorable relief performances. Giants reliever Santiago Casilla unleashed a wild pitch that put Xavier Paul on third base. The very next pitch saw Casilla throw a high-inside pitch that Buster Posey couldn't handle, scoring Paul with an all-important insurance run.
Casilla gave up two runs on three hits in an inning where the Giants desperately needed a shut-down performance.
Reds closer Aroldis Chapman certainly made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth as well. In a non-save situation, Chapman unleashed two wild pitches and two walks, allowing a run to score and finally retiring the potential tying run with a game-ending strikeout of catcher Buster Posey.
The Oakland Athletics let Game 2 slip from their fingers with bad efforts from the bullpen as well. The trio of Sean Doolittle, Ryan Cook and Grant Balfour gave up four runs in 2.2 innings, with Balfour surrendering the winning run on a sacrifice fly by Don Kelly.
Ryan Cook was given a 4-3 lead in the eighth inning, but his wild pitch to Alex Avila allowed Don Kelly to score the tying run.
It's still early in these playoffs, and some of the above pitchers may have a chance to redeem themselves. Unfortunately for pitchers in past playoffs, they can't be afforded the same opportunity, and their embarrassing playoff performances are forever etched in history.
Here are 10 of the worst game-blowing relief pitchers in MLB playoff history.
1. Ron Perranoski: 1969 Minnesota Twins, ALCS
2. Jeff Reardon: Atlanta Braves, 1992 World Series
3. Jack Bentley: New York Giants, 1924 World Series
In 1924, New York Giants pitcher Jack Bentley registered a "first" in baseball history.
It's a first he'd rather not be associated with.
Here is what I wrote about Bentley in an article published last year:
4. Stan Belinda: Pittsburgh Pirates, 1992 NLCS
5. Calvin Schiraldi: Boston Red Sox, 1986 World Series
In the 1986 ALCS, Boston Red Sox reliever Calvin Schiraldi pitched in four games, posting a 1.50 ERA with one save.
In the World Series against the New York Mets, however, Schiraldi imploded.
Schiraldi notched the save in Game 1 in relief of Bruce Hurst. In Game 6, Schiraldi came on in relief of Roger Clemens in the eighth inning to protect a 3-2 lead. Schiraldi allowed a sacrifice fly to Gary Carter to tie the game at 3-3 and send the game into extra innings.
The Red Sox scored two runs in the top of the tenth inning to take a 5-3 lead. Schiraldi came out in the bottom half of the inning, his third in relief. After getting quick to fly-ball outs, Schiraldi gave up three consecutive singles before handing the ball off to Bob Stanley.
We all know how the rest of that inning turned out.
Schiraldi was again called upon in Game 7 with the Red Sox and Mets tied at 3-3. Schiraldi gave up three runs on three hits as the Mets went on to defeat the Red Sox 8-5 and complete one of the biggest collapses in World Series history.
6. Armando Benitez: Baltimore Orioles, 1997 ALCS
In 1997, the Baltimore Orioles were bidding to get to their first World Series since 1983, facing the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS.
However, the potent offense of the Indians had its way, and the Orioles were looking at elimination heading into Game 6.
Fortunately, Orioles ace pitched a gem, allowing just one hit over eight innings. But Mussina was matched by Indians starter Charles Nagy, who kept the O's off the scoreboard as well.
Orioles reliever Randy Myers followed up Mussina's brilliant efforts, pitching two scoreless innings of his own before handing the ball off to Armando Benitez to start the 11th inning.
Benitez had already known gloom and doom during this ALCS, giving up a three-run home run to Marquis Grissom in the eighth inning of Game 2, giving the Indians a come-from-behind 5-4 win.
Benitez worked quickly to get the first two outs in the 11th. However, Indians second baseman Tony Fernandez took Benitez's first pitch and dropped it over the right-field fence for a home run. The Indians would go on to win 1-0, and Benitez's name instantly become mud in Baltimore.
7. Mitch Williams: Philadelphia Phillies, 1993 World Series
Philadelphia Phillies reliever Mitch Williams fashioned together a solid 11-year career, notching 192 career saves. However, the 1993 World Series was not Williams' finest period.
Williams started off well, notching a five-out save in Game 2 against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Game 4 saw Williams come on in relief of Larry Andersen to protect a 14-11 lead in the top of the eighth inning. Williams was unable to stop the Blue Jays' relentless assault, giving up three runs and giving the Blue Jays a come-from-behind 15-14 win.
In Game 6 with the Phillies needing a win to stay alive, Williams came on in the ninth to protect a 6-5 lead. Williams again found trouble, walking Rickey Henderson and Paul Molitor, putting runners at first and second with one out.
On a 2-2 pitch to Joe Carter, Williams grooved one on the inner half of the plate.
Carter knew what to do with the pitch.
Game over. Series over. Williams a goat. End of story.
8. Donnie Moore: California Angels, 1986 ALCS
Game 5 of the American League Championship Series between the Boston Red Sox and California Angels is considered one of the best playoff games in history. For Angels reliever Donnie Moore, it spelled the beginning of a downward spiral.
In the top of the ninth inning with his Angels leading 5-4, Moore came on in relief of Gary Lucas. Working the count to 2-2 against Sox center fielder Dave Henderson, Moore threw a pitch that Henderson deposited into the seats, temporarily giving the Red Sox a 6-5 lead.
The Angels would come back and tie the game in the bottom of the ninth. However, Moore, working his third inning in relief, gave up a sacrifice fly to Henderson, scoring Don Baylor with the eventual winning run.
The Angels never recovered, losing the ALCS in seven games. Moore never recovered either, taking his own life just three years later.
9. Byung-Hyun Kim: Arizona Diamondbacks, 2001 World Series
It's not often that you'll see the word "goat" attached to a player from a winning team, but in the case of Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim, an exception could be made
In Game 4 of the 2001 World Series with the New York Yankees, Diamondbacks starter Curt Schilling worked seven brilliant innings, allowing only one run on three hits. Kim took over in the eighth, handed a 3-1 lead after the Diamondbacks scored two in the top of the frame.
Kim worked a perfect eighth, striking out the side. In the ninth, Kim gave up a two-run home run to first baseman Tino Martinez, tying the game at 3-3.
Still working in the 10th inning, Kim got the first two outs before giving up the game-winning home run to Derek Jeter.
The very next day in Game 5, the two teams were back at it again. Miguel Batista had pitched brilliantly for the D-Backs, working into the eighth inning. After Greg Swindell retired Tino Martinez. Kim came on in relief in the ninth inning. Kim gave up a leadoff double to Jorge Posada to start the inning, but quickly recorded the next two outs.
Third baseman Scott Brosius then stepped to the plate and crushed a two-run home run to tie the game and send it into extra innings. The Yankees would eventually get the win in the 12th inning, and Kim would not be seen from again.
10. Ralph Branca: Brooklyn Dodgers, 1951 NL 3-Game Playoff
Brooklyn Dodgers reliever Ralph Branca had already experienced some playoff angst by the time Game 3 of the three-game playoff rolled around in 1951.
The Dodgers and New York Giants had won one game apiece in the end-of-season battle to determine the National League pennant winner. Branca was the starter and loser in Game 1.
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