Wilmer Difo has played second base, shortstop, third base, and all three outfield positions during his career with the Nationals and Pirates, and now he can add pitching to his resume.
Well, maybe he’ll want to leave it off if he ever does actually prepare a resume. Do baseball players have actual resumes? Do they also claim to be proficient in Microsoft Excel like the rest of us? (Ed. note: I feel seen — Rich O.)
Anyway, Pittsburgh was down by 12 runs in Georgia, with one-third of that deficit having been racked up on Ronald Acuña Jr.’s grand slam. Suffice to say that in the battle of Andersons as starting pitchers, Ian fared much better than Tyler. So, the Pirates brought in Difo to pitch.
Here’s how the bottom of the eighth went:
Freddie Freeman walked.
Marcell Ozuna doubled.
Ozzie Albies walked.
Austin Riley hit a sacrifice fly to make it 13-0.
Dansby Swanson walked.
Kevan Smith singled in a run. 14-0.
Guillermo Heredia singled. 15-0.
Ehire Adrianza hit a grand slam. 19-0.
Acuña struck out swinging!
Ozuna doubled. 20-0.
Albies flied out.
It’s always the leadoff walks that get you, isn’t it? And if you’re wondering, Difo only went to one 3-0 count, and Albies took the 83 mph fastball on 3-0 before walking on the next pitch.
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So, that’s eight runs against Difo, all earned. If he never pitches again, and good heavens, why would he, he will set a new, dubious, major league record: the highest ERA ever for someone who pitched at least one inning.
As you would expect, the four-way tie for the current record, shared by Jim Garry, Frank Schnelberg, John Mabry, and Lino Urdaneta, is all guys who gave up seven earned runs in one career inning of work.
Garry was mostly an outfielder in his minor league career, but he’s in major league history as a pitcher because May 2, 1893 with the Boston Beaneaters was his only appearance in the National League, before “Major League Baseball” was even a thing. It was the fourth game of the season and Boston lost, 13-7, to the Phillies.
Schnellberg, likewise, made one career appearance, in a 13-2 Brooklyn Superbas loss to the Cincinnati Reds on June 8, 1910.
In modern times, Mabry was a decent lefty bat who played 14 major league seasons and actually made two pitching appearances. He gave up two runs in two-thirds of an inning for the 2000 Mariners, and five runs in one-third of an inning for the Marlins the next season.
Urdaneta, however, is the most fascinating case. He made his debut on September 9, 2004, for the Tigers in a 26-5 loss to the Royals. Relieving Jason Johnson, the righty gave up six earned runs without recording an out.
For two and a half years after that, Urdaneta had an ERA of infinity in the major leagues, until May 6, 2007, when he got back into the show with the Mets, and finally got Conor Jackson of the Diamondbacks to ground to third, and wound up working a scoreless two-thirds of an inning. The next day in San Francisco, Urdaneta gave up a homer to Bengie Molina in his one-third of an inning of work, and he never again appeared in the majors — he was suspended 50 games a week later for performance-enhancing drugs, which… well… yeah, he did bring down his career ERA from infinity to a mere 63.00 in a span of just two days.
Anyhoo, the Pirates scored on an infield single in the ninth inning to lose, 20-1. (Would Tony LaRussa have been mad about that? Discuss.)
Maybe they should watch out for the MLB testing patrol in the next few days.