Only in Baseball: The Most Head-Scratching Results of the 2022 MLB Regular Season
Over the course of a 162-game MLB season, the cream eventually rises to the top, and the bad teams lose roughly two out of every three games in the battle for draft position.
But shrink the sample size down to a month, a week, a series or even a single game, and some truly weird "Well, that's baseball for you" things happen all the time.
Things like the destined-for-100-losses Pirates winning 83 percent of their games played against the on-pace-for-112-wins Dodgers, the sub-.500 Red Sox going 25-8 against the AL West and Miles Mikolas' no good, very bad start against the Colorado Rockies.
Capturing all the head-scratching results of the 2022 campaign simply isn't feasible, as you could easily come up with at least half a dozen for every team. But we've highlighted nine of the biggest ones, in no particular order.
Tony Gonsolin's Lone Loss(es) of the Season
First things first: wins and losses are just the dumbest possible measurement of a pitcher's effectiveness. Hunter Greene lost a game in which he went 7.1 innings without allowing a hit. Two starts later, he won a game in which he allowed five earned runs in five innings of work.
But Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Tony Gonsolin is both having a great season and has a pristine record to show for it.
He's currently on the IL with forearm soreness, but he's sitting at 16-1 with a 2.10 ERA.
That one loss, though, came in the unlikeliest game.
Playing at home on July 25 against the Washington Nationals—the worst team in the majors this season—Gonsolin was tagged for four earned runs in the fifth inning. Yadiel Hernández led off the inning with a solo shot, and then after back-to-back outs, four consecutive Nats got hits, punctuated by a Juan Soto triple.
That isn't the weird part, though.
The weird part is that the combined force of Paolo Espino, Andres Machado, Victor Arano, Hunter Harvey, Carl Edwards Jr. and Kyle Finnegan held the almighty Dodgers to just one run—on a solo home run by Trayce Thompson batting ninth.
It was the only game of the entire season in which Gonsolin has not received multiple runs of support.
We should add it wasn't his only loss of the calendar year. Gonsolin was also the loser of the All-Star Game, giving up back-to-back homers to Giancarlo Stanton and Byron Buxton in the fourth inning. He was 11-0 at the time, so that exhibition outcome felt quite similar to the 2003 All-Star Game, which was the only blown save by Eric Gagné during his streak of 84 consecutive converted save chances.
Los Angeles Dodgers Go 1-5 vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
As weird as Washington beating Tony Gonsolin was, that was just one game. The Dodgers at least broke even (3-3) with a plus-11 run differential in their season series against the Nationals.
They weren't as lucky against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Take out their six games against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Pirates are sitting at 50-94 for the year. Against the NL's other five projected playoff teams—New York, St. Louis, Atlanta, Philadelphia and San Diego—Pittsburgh has gone a combined 7-33 with a minus-106 run differential, and it has the worst run differential in the majors (minus-228) because of it.
By some miracle, though, the Pirates went 5-1 this season against the Dodgers, even sweeping the three-game series in Los Angeles.
In each of the five wins, Pittsburgh—which currently ranks 27th in the majors in slugging—hit multiple home runs. Tucupita Marcano has hit just two home runs in 48 games played this season, but they came in back-to-back games against Los Angeles.
The Dodgers should have at least won the first game in L.A., but Craig Kimbrel suffered the first of his many blown saves in that one. In the subsequent two games, the Dodgers never held a lead.
Phillies Go Hot, Cold and Back Again in West Coast Tour
From August 29 through September 4, the Philadelphia Phillies played three games in Arizona and three games in San Francisco.
And they were just all over the map for that week.
In the first game against Arizona, the Phillies jumped out to a 7-0 lead and chased Madison Bumgarner before he was able to finish four innings. It looked like they were headed for an easy win against a team that entered the game eight games below .500.
But then the D-Backs scored six in the bottom of the fourth and six more in the fifth en route to a 13-7 victory.
After those 13 unanswered runs, Arizona came out the next day and jumped out to a 9-0 lead by the end of the fifth to make it 22 unanswered runs. The Phillies did finally get on the board in the eighth, but lost 12-3.
In the third game of the series, things swung drastically back in Philadelphia's favor. Without hitting a single home run in the game, the Phillies scored four in the third, four in the fifth and seven in the eighth for an 18-2 victory.
Any dream of carrying that momentum into the subsequent series went out the door in a hurry, though, as San Francisco scored 11 runs in the first three innings of that series opener.
So, to recap, the Phillies started out on a 7-0 run in 3.5 innings, allowed a 22-0 run over the course of the next 10 innings, put up 18 runs in a game for the first time since April 2018 and then got blitzed 11-0 in the first three innings (of what turned into a three-game sweep) in San Francisco.
What a whirlwind.
Baltimore Orioles Fall to 0-7 When Anthony Santander Hits Multiple HR
When a player hits two or more home runs in a game, you expect his team to win more often than not, right?
Case in point, the Yankees are 10-1 this season when Aaron Judge hits multiple home runs.
Likewise, the Cardinals are 6-1 when one of Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt or Albert Pujols homers multiple times. Even the Angels—notorious for wasting the best efforts of Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout—have gone a respectable 7-3 this season when either of those sluggers goes deep two or more times.
But when rising star Anthony Santander hits two home runs, take it to the bank that the Orioles will lose the game.
Baltimore was already 0-5 in such games prior to this season, which at least made some sense when they were going 178-368 overall from 2018-21 and ranked last in the majors in total runs allowed in each of the three seasons that weren't shortened by the pandemic.
Now that they can actually limit an opponent's damage on a fairly regular basis, though, it's bizarre that they have continued to squander Santander's big games.
The first such game this season came against the Yankees in mid-May—back when they were hotter than the sun. In that one, Santander hit solo shots off Luis Severino in the fourth and Aroldis Chapman in the ninth, but his teammates went a combined 1-for-25 at the dish in a 6-2 loss.
The other came earlier this month against the Blue Jays. Santander hit a solo home run in the first and another in the eighth, but he once again received basically no help in a 7-3 loss.
Baltimore is now 0-7 all-time when Santander hits multiple home runs, which I have to assume is some sort of record in futility.
Hapless Detroit Offense Catches Fire, Sweeps 4-Game Series vs. Cleveland
The Detroit Tigers have been some kind of awful on offense. Five teams have eclipsed 200 home runs for the year, but these guys haven't even gotten to 100 yet.
Of the 15 Tigers with at least 110 plate appearances, the only one with a slugging percentage greater than .390 is Eric Haase at .431. Four of those 15 Tigers are slugging below .300.
They've been shut out 21 times and held to one run on 20 occasions, which accounts for more than 25 percent of the season.
But for a few days in early July, they figured things out and put a hurting on a likely postseason-bound division rival.
In an Independence Day double-header against the Cleveland Guardians, Tigers second baseman Jonathan Schoop went 6-for-8, stole a base and scored three runs. They only had three extra-base hits between the two games, but they manufactured enough runs to win 4-1 and 5-3.
The following day, Detroit had a rare outburst of scoring in an 11-4 victory. Miguel Cabrera went 3-for-3, both Riley Greene and Eric Haase had multiple extra-base hits and even 9-hole hitter Victor Reyes went 3-for-4 with three RBI.
And in the series finale, a Kody Clemens home run off Emmanuel Clase put the finishing touches on an 8-2 victory.
All told, Detroit put up 28 runs while winning four games against Cleveland.
(Things returned to normal after that, though, as Detroit scored 13 total runs while losing its next seven games against the Guardians.)
Miami Marlins Lose 10 One-Run Games in 20 Days
At this point, losing nail-biters has become standard fare for Miami.
The Marlins are 22-37 overall in one-run games, passing the 2017 Phillies (21-36) for the most such losses since 2015. And there's still plenty of season left for them to catch or bypass the 2014 Cincinnati Reds (22-38) for the most one-run losses in a season since at least 2000.
(The 1968 Chicago White Sox's 30-44 all-time record is probably safe, but when we have to go all the way back to "The Year of the Pitcher" to prove a point...yikes.)
Early in the year, Miami was more than fine in close ones. During their 12-8 start, the Marlins went 5-3 in one-run affairs.
But from May 2-21, the slim-margin losses piled up in a hurry.
That run began with three consecutive one-run losses to the Diamondbacks in which Miami scored a combined total of 12 runs in the seventh inning or later. However, those frantic comeback attempts repeatedly fell just short.
In its subsequent four-game series in San Diego, all three of Miami's losses came by one run, including the painful series finale in which the Padres snapped a 20-inning scoreless drought with a walk-off three-run homer.
Miami proceeded to lose one game by one run in each of its next four series against Arizona, Milwaukee, Washington and Atlanta for a total of 10 one-run losses in a span of 18 games.
The Marlins did have one fun game during that nightmarish run, scoring eight runs in the top of the ninth inning to win at Arizona. However, that stretch dropped them from 12-8 to 17-22, and they never recovered.
Last-Place Boston Red Sox Owned the AL West
At 72-77 with nothing but games against the AL East remaining, the Boston Red Sox are very likely headed for a losing record. It has been a colossal disappointment of a season for a team that made the ALCS in 2021, not to mention a team that has one of the highest payrolls.
But against the AL West, Boston has been a wrecking ball.
The Red Sox actually lost their first series of the season against the AL West, dropping two of three at home against the Angels. But they won each of the subsequent nine series for an overall record of 25-8.
It was at least close against both Houston (4-2; Astros plus-5 run differential) and Los Angeles (4-3; Angels plus-9 run differential). Against Oakland, Seattle and Texas, however, the Red Sox went a combined 17-3, outscoring those clubs 131-63.
J.D. Martinez, in particular, enjoyed his time against the AL West this season. Boston's DH went 41-for-115 (.357) with six home runs and 13 doubles. He had 11 multi-hit performances compared to just three hitless games.
Too bad the Red Sox have given it all back and then some with a 20-43 record against the AL East.
That 25-8 record against the AL West isn't quite the best "vs. division" record in the majors. The Yankees also have a 25-8 record, albeit against the AL Central. And the Astros take the cake at 26-8, again versus the AL Central.
You rather expect that from the projected No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the AL bracket, though. You don't expect it from one of the divisional basement-dwellers.
Cincinnati Reds Go 2-2 At Defending Champs; Lose 20 of Next 21 Games
To be sure, the Atlanta Braves of the first 50 games of the season are not the same as the Atlanta Braves of the past 100 games. In addition to splitting fa four-game series with the Cincinnati Reds early in the season, they also lost series against the Nationals, Marlins and Rangers during their rough start.
Also, Cincinnati's season-opening slate was a gauntlet. After that series in Atlanta, the Reds had to deal with the Guardians, Dodgers, Padres, Cardinals, Padres again, Rockies and Brewers. Save for Colorado, all of those teams are still in the postseason hunt. And let's not forget that the Rockies started out 16-11, so they were a tough opponent at the time.
All the same, it's ridiculous that the Cincinnati Reds split a four-game set on the road against the reigning World Series champions only to then lose 20 of their next 21 games.
They weren't exactly competitive games, either.
There were no walk-offs, nor were any of them extra-inning affairs.
After both of their losses in Atlanta came by a single run, 19 of Cincinnati's next 20 losses were by multiple runs. The Reds never held a lead in the seven inning or later in any of those 20 losses.
They did eventually right the ship, going 39-39 over their next 78 games. But for that first month of the season, they were an outright disaster.
Miles Mikolas: 21 Quality Starts; 1 Extremely Non-Quality Start
You wouldn't know it from his 11-13 record, but St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Miles Mikolas has had a great 2022 campaign. His 21 quality starts are good for top-10 in the majors, putting him one ahead of likely AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander and one behind likely NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara.
Mikolas was named an All-Star for the second time in his career, and he would be one of just 10 pitchers this season with at least 100 innings pitched, a sub-3.00 ERA and a sub-1.00 WHIP...if he could just erase that one total nightmare in early August in Colorado.
Four batters into that game, the Rockies took a 3-0 lead on a C.J. Cron home run.
But it was the third inning when things really got out of control.
Ryan McMahon grounded out to lead off the inning, but then Colorado went single-single-double-single, all on line drives. The Rockies did run into one out at the plate, but then went single-single-single-double, all on ground balls.
After the eighth consecutive hit and 14th overall, Mikolas finally got the hook. And when Randal Grichuk homered off Packy Naughton, it officially closed the book on Mikolas' night at 10 earned runs.
It wasn't the only 10-run start of the season. In fact, Texas' Kohei Arihara gave up 11 earned runs against the Blue Jays earlier this month.
This one just came out of nowhere.
Colorado had been held below 10 runs in each of the 20 games leading up to Mikolas' meltdown and was also held below 10 in each of the 24 games after it. The Rockies were actually shut out in six of those 44 games. But credit to Mikolas for bouncing back for a line of 16.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 10 K with two wins in his next two starts.