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Worst wins ever!

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Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks

I’m not sure why I started thinking about this, but it was probably a result of Mike Mayers’ horrific debut for the Cardinals a while ago. It got me wondering what were the worst performances by a pitcher ever, who got a W. This needs to be divided into starters and relievers, obviously. The former have to go at least five innings, while the latter can benefit from a well-timed offensive surge. But then there are also games where the team wins, no thanks to the pitcher in question. And, of course, these categories apply both to baseball in general and the D-backs specifically. So... Let’s do this! All data covers the period since 1913

Baseball history

Worst starting performance, personal win
Pete Donohue (CIN), 6/2/28: 6.1 IP, 14 H, 11 R, 11 ER, 0 BB, 0 SO

As noted, these have to last at least five innings to qualify. Donohue got an extra four outs in this slugfest against the Boston Braves. It helped the Reds scored every inning through the sixth. piling up 15 runs. His Game Score for this contest was 1. How bad is that? Only four Diamondbacks starters in franchise history have been lower. Honorable mention: Lee Pflund (LAD), 5/30/45: 5 IP, 12 H, 10 R, 8 ER, 6 BB, 1 SO.

Worst relief performance, personal win
Luis Avilan (ATL), 4/14/14: 1 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO

Let’s start with the honorable mention: Eddie Rommel of the 1932 Athletics (then in Philadelphia), who on July 10, allowed 29 hits, nine walks and 14 runs (one unearned) in relief. However, in his defense, he did throw 17 innings. If you want to know the full story, here you go. There are other relievers who have allowed more runs than Avilan and got a W, but mostly in the days of really long relief: all threw at least three innings. Avilan came in with a 5-1 lead in the eighth, and coughed it all up, but luckily, Dan Uggla’s grand-slam in the ninth saved the reliever’s bacon.

Worst starting performance, team win
Gio Gonzalez (OAK), 7/20/09: 2.2 IP, 11 H, 10 R, 10 ER, 3 BB, 1 SO

Gonzalez dug his team a deep, deep hole against the Twins. The A’s were 12-2 down in the middle of the third, with a WP which bottomed out at 0.9%. Here’s the Fangraph. But with the help of a Matt Holliday grand-slam, Oakland came back to win 14-13. Future D-backs Craig Breslow and Brad Ziegler pitched in this one, picking up the win and a hold respectively. This was worth a -8 Game Score, only one other starter since 1941 has been below zero in a contest their team won. He’s our honorable mention: Jaime Navarro (CHW), 7/31/97: 4.2 IP, 11 H, 11 R, 10 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO

Worst relief performance, team win
Fred Norman (MON), 5/19/80: 0.1 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 0 SO

Coming into the ninth, the Expos were 11-1 up on the Braves, with a WP which was literally at 100%. One out later, Atlanta had the tying run at the plate, having sent ten to the plate, nine reaching base against Norman and Stan Bahnsen. Closer Woodie Fryman, presumably having been asleep in the bullpen at the beginning of the inning, eventually restored normality, recording the final out. Elsewhere, 13 relievers have been charged with five ER without retiring a batter, in games their teams won.

D-backs history

Worst starting performance, personal win
Casey Daigle, 5/10/04: 5 IP, 12 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 1 SO

A six-run third inning for the Diamondbacks helped Mr. Jenny Finch stay in the game, despite allowing crooked numbers in the 1st, 2nd and 4th inning. He faced 29 batters and more than half (15) reached base. Daigle would stay in the rotation after this outing, but it was his last W for Arizona. Indeed, it was his last W for more than six years, until vulturing one up out of the Astros bullpen in July 2010. Honorable mention: Zack Greinke, 4/25/16: 6.2 IP, 11 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO

Worst relief performance, personal win
Micah Owings, 9/27/11: 1 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO

You should be able to work out what this one is without me telling you, but it’s the only time a D-backs reliever has got the W while allowing more than two runs. The pic for this article should give it away. Want another clue? It came in the 10th inning of a tied game. Yep, this was the game where Arizona scored six in the bottom of the frame, capped by Ryan Roberts’ walk-off grand-slam. Here’s our recap. Ah, what the heck. You want to see that again, as much as I do, so let me save you the Googling.

Worst starting performance, team win
Zach Duke, 6/13/11: 4.2 IP, 13 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO

Coincidentally, Owings also got the win here, tossing 2.1 scoreless innings of relief. The D-backs were 9-0 up on the Marlins in the middle of the third, but in the end, they’d need all that and more, as Arizona finally prevailed only by a 12-9 margin. Perhaps somewhat in Duke’s defense, he did hit a two-run home-run of his own, off Ricky Nolasco. Recappage for this one. Honorable mention: John Patterson, 8/4/02: 3.1 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO

Worst relief performance, team win
Leo Rosales (ARI), 4/28/10: 1.1 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO

I actually remember this one, which saw the D-backs 6-0 up in the middle of the first, with Kris Benson getting to bat before he threw a pitch. However, he didn’t retire a batter in the third, and was relieved by Rosales, who was worse still: by the end of the fourth, Arizona were 11-6 down. But the D-backs came back, tied it in the eighth and won it in 10. Have an Azreous recap. Honorable mention: the other Patty, Joe Paterson, 4/23/12: 0 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 0 SO.