The Toronto Blue Jays' bullpen completely fell apart at Target Field on Thursday, allowing the Minnesota Twins to draw a franchise-record eight walks in one inning, according to Twins employee Dustin Morse.
The Blue Jays entered the eighth inning of a rather nondescript game with a 5-3 lead and stud reliever Steve Delabar on the mound. Delabar, a 2013 All-Star, walked catcher Josmil Pinto and outfielder Chris Herrmann before retiring infielder Eduardo Nunez on a successful sacrifice bunt.
Sensing that the game was slipping away, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons brought in closer Sergio Santos to lock down the five-out save.
Santos would do no such thing, instead walking all three batters he faced (Trevor Plouffe, Kurt Suzuki and Brian Dozier), while throwing just four his 16 pitches for strikes.
After walking Plouffe to lead off the inning, Santos uncorked a wild pitch while Suzuki was at the plate, allowing the Twins to draw within one.
Things would only get worse, as Santos then walked Suzuki on another wild pitch that allowed the tying run to score. Somehow, Santos repeated the feat with the next batter, Dozier, throwing a wild pitch to surrender the go-ahead run.
Having finally seen enough, Gibbons called for lefty J.A. Happ, taking Santos out of the game after three walks and three wild pitches.
Fortunately for the Twins, Happ wasn't much better, as the lefty walked the first two batters he faced (Joe Mauer and Chris Colabello). The second walk forced in a run, bringing the Twins' lead to 7-5.
Finally, the string of six consecutive walks ended when Jason Kubel deposited a two-run single into right field to extend the lead to 9-5, which would hold up as the final score.
Pinto then drew his second walk of the inning, but Happ was finally able to stop the bleeding, retiring Herrmann and Nunez to end the disastrous frame.
The tally: eight walks, three wild pitches, one hit, one loss and three bruised egos.
For the Twins, the Toronto meltdown meant a piece of team history, with the eight walks besting the franchise's previous record of six in one inning—a feat accomplished on Apr. 16, 1961 and July 15, 1965.
The MLB record for most walks in an inning? The Twins weren't even close. ESPN 1500's Phil Mackey indicates that on Sept. 11, 1949, the New York Yankees drew an incredible 11 free passes in the third inning of a 20-5 win over the Washington Senators.
The Blue Jays can perhaps partially blame the cold Minnesota weather for Thursday's disaster, but what was the Senators' excuse on a September day in the Bronx?