How do games end?

After my post about a walk-off catcher interference, there was quite a bit of speculation about how games can end with specific types of events. The intentional base-on-balls is a good example. Quite a few people are confused when I present this type of data. Now, once I give the answer you’ll probably smack your head and say, ‘D’oh.’ You know the answer. Really, you do.

The problem is that baseball games don’t always end as expected.

  • It can rain and a game be called and called official. This doesn’t happen as much any more, but in the past it was fairly common.
  • Just like your teenage years, baseball games have a curfew. If there is a winner, the game may be called.
  • For a time, Sunday baseball had a curfew and the games were stopped, seemingly, right at that time.
  • These types of games may not end directly at the end of a half of an inning. If a team intentionally walked a batter and the “heavens opened up,’, you got yourself a game-ending IBB.

    In addition, Retrosheet’s event ID may not always tell the whole story. Take a game, top of the ninth, visiting team’s last at bat, down by three, runners on second and third, two outs. Batter hits a line drive deep to right field. Runners score and on the throw to the plate, the batter attempts to leg out a double. A fielder cuts off the throw and nails the batter at second. The Retrosheet event number will indicate a single. A game ending single that plated two runs. Or, as the then-Devil Rays showed against the Yankees, run-scoring game-ending passed balls are possible.

    Obviously, the data as presented don’t tell the full story. So, let’s look at the story of game ending and game winning walk-offs. Walk-off, bases loaded, triples.

    Using the Retrosheet era, there have been seven bases-loaded, three-run-scoring, game-winning triples. Two happened with no outs, two took place with one out and three happened with two outs.* All of these triples happened in the ninth inning, none in extra innings.

    * There may be more, but Retrosheet doesn’t have the play-by-play data.

    No outs:
    {exp:list_maker}Joe Torre hit eight triples and had 137 RBI in winning the MVP in 1971. One triple and three RBs came on May 29, 1971 as Torre helped the Cardinals beat the Braves 8-7.
    Juan Beniquez made his lone triple in 1987 count. With no outs and the bases loaded, Beniquez pinch-hit for Manuel Lee and tripled the Blue Jays to a 10-9 victory. {/exp:list_maker}

    One out:
    {exp:list_maker}Manny Mota alert! In a Sept. 3, 1971 contest against the Reds, Mota stepped in against Joe Gibbon with the bases full of Dodgers. A bases clearing triple gave the Dodgers a 6-5 come-from-behind victory.
    The Indians almost made the playoffs in 2005. The next season was turning into a disappointment but on Aug. 26, Grady Sizemore helped the Indians to a 4-3 victory as he knocked three Indians home, sending the home team fans in attendance (including this one) into a frenzy. This is the most recent bases-loaded, game-ending triple. What is it about the Indians and bases loaded triples? Duane Kuiper once hit two in one game.{/exp:list_maker}

    Two outs:
    {exp:list_maker}Harry Hanebrink hit one triple in 1953, his first year in the majors. That was half his career total. This one plated three Milwaukee Braves teammates and the only runs in a 3-2 victory over the Brooklyn Dodgers.
    Cam Carreon helped the White Sox beat the Indians to end the first game of a July 1, 1962 doubleheader 5-4. This was the second of Carreon’s four career triples.
    Dave Collins led the American League in triples in 1984. But in 1980, playing for the Reds, his first triple of the year drove in three. Not only did this give the 1980 Reds a 6-5 victory over the Giants, it kept them undefeated for the year. {/exp:list_maker}

    Note that only I might find interesting: Seven batters turned in game-winning bases-clearing triples. Three of them have the same initial for their first and last name.

    Bases loaded walk-off home runs are boring and happen way too often, 188 times to seven times for triples. And 22 have happened since Sizemore’s.

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    2 Comments on "How do games end?"

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    Under current rules a Home Run is a HR, walk off or not.  But none of these walk off bases loaded hits would have been triples if the batting team was down by less than 2 runs.

    Mat Kovach
    Mat Kovach

    Yes, for it to be a walk-off triple, the team has to be down by two. But that is part of what makes that special. You can get credit for a walk-off grand slam if the game is tied.

    But I was a bit surprised that some of your more speedy players didn’t have one. I figured a Ricky Henderson, Lou Brock, or Vince Coleman play long enough to get one.

    Hmm, have to check if anybody has a walk-off triple AND a walk-off home run (I’m sure Torre does).