Esoteric Boxscore of the Day

September 23, 2005


This one's a doozy. When I discovered this gem, I couldn't believe my eyes...that it could really have happened.

August 15, 1989
Seattle 2, Texas 0
TEX    0  0  0    0  0  0    0  0  0  -   0 13  1
SEA 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 x - 2 1 0
Today's Boxscore

How could it be possible to throw a one-hitter, bang out 13 hits...and two runs?! To put it in perspective, consider this. Both teams achieved rare feats. In the 35 years I have complete records for (1969-2004) over 75,000 games have been played. In them, a team has scored two or more runs on one or fewer hits 36 times, or about once every 2,100 games; a team has been shut out on as many as 13 hits only four times, or around once every 19,000 games. So, for these two to happen in the same game is unbelievable! In fact, the probability of this happenning even once in 35 years less than 1 in 500!! Wow. No, double wow. Here's the story.

The tough luck loser of this one was Charle Hough. It isn't easy to pitch a one-hitter and lose--especially when that one hit was a single. Though walking five, throwing a wild pitch, and committing a balk helps a little. Even so, all he needed was just a little help from his friends to win his best start of the year.

No such luck. His teammates let him down when it counted. Rangers hitters established a strange pattern throughout the game, getting a baserunner in every inning, including two baserunners in six innings. But the hits and walks were scattered so perfectly by Seattle pitcher Brian Holman that none of the 15 who got on base came around to score. Their typical inning went: out, out, hit, hit, out; or hit, out, out, hit, out. They would threaten with two outs and then fail to come through. Check out their situational hitting:
  • Bases empty, 2-out: 5-for-5
  • Runner on first, 2-out: 3-for-6
  • Runner in scoring position, 2-out: 0-for-6
  • No runner in scoring position: 13-for-31 (.419)
  • Runner in scoring position: 0-for-8
Pretty pathetic. Hough must have been huffing around the dugout after watching the bottom fall out of every inning.

As for Seattle, they managed to score on two unusual rallies (with a lot of help from Texas). Check it out:
  • Sixth Inning: single, balk, intentional walk, wild pitch, sacrifice fly
  • Seventh Inning: walk, stolen base, 3-base error
That sixth inning sequence must be one-of-a-kind! Believe it or not, they almost scored in the first inning as well, after loading the bases on three walks (with a passed ball in the mix, too).

But they apparently used up all their luck for a while, because this was their last win for two weeks...immediately after this improbable win, the Mariners began a 12-game losing streak!

Crazy stuff!

  • The Texas 2-3-4 hitters went 8-for-14, including 4-for-5 by Rafael Palmeiro, hitting from the two-hole.
  • I thought it was pretty unusual for a team to commit a balk, a wild pitch, a passed ball, and an error in the same game, but it's actually not that uncommon, done in 146 other games, as well.
  • Holman, who gave up the first 10 hits (and no runs), also allowed 10 hits in the start before and after this one (both eight-plus innings), but allowed a total of nine runs in those games!
  • Incredibly, there were two 13-hit shutouts last month (on 8/13 and 8/31) after there being none in the previous 12 years, and four in the previous 35.
  • There have been two games in which a team was no-hit but still scored at least two runs. The no-hit team has won both of those games!
  • This happens to be the same day that Dave Dravecky broke his arm, ending his career.


  • Nice post.

    I think there's a slight error though - nothing serious. At the end of the first paragraph after the boxscore, you write that "It's worse than 1-in-500 chance." Isn't it more like 1 in 500,000?

    By Blogger Satchmo, at 12:58 PM  

  • The way I thought about it was this (using rounded numbers): You have 75,000 white marbles (games). First, you pick 36 at random, color them blue, and put them back in. That means that the probability of choosing a blue marble is around 1 in 2,100. Then, blindly, you pick out 4 marbles. The chances of picking one of the blue marbles (meaning, the same game) is approximately 4 in 2,100, or 1 in 525. Sorry not to be more mathematical, but this is not the ideal space!

    By Anonymous esoteric eric, at 4:34 PM  

  • The chance of it happening in a specific game is about 1 in 40,000,000. The chance that it happens over the course of 75,000 games is about 1 in 525. You didn't really make it clear that these were the odds you were listing. Personally, I think the 1 in 40 million odds sounds more impressive.

    By Anonymous Will, at 4:53 PM  

  • You're right. The implied question I was answering was: "Over the past 35 years, what is the probability that this kind of game occurred?" One in 40,000,000 is the answer to the question: "If I pick a game at random from the past 35 years, what is the probability that it would be a game like this?" I've edited the post to be more clear.

    By Anonymous esoteric eric, at 11:20 PM  

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