Phillies pitcher Jerad Eickhoff got the rudest of welcomes in his start Monday night in Philadelphia, against the Arizona Diamondbacks. A first-pitch leadoff home run is deflating; allowing back-to-back leadoff dingers is downright demoralizing; serving up back-to-back-to-back taters to open up a start is like something out of a nightmare. Before he’d gotten a single out he’d given up as many homers as teammate Hector Neris has allowed in more than 27 innings. Not good!
Eickhoff’s outing was, in the end, one to forget, possibly with the assistance of several large servings of booze. He finished the game having allowed five total home runs, and was pulled after just three innings. That’s not something that happens a lot in baseball:
Unbelievably, Eickhoff’s horrible first inning somehow manages to not be the definitive choice for worst pitching sequence of the last 26 hours. Sunday night, in the eighth inning of a game between the Nationals and the Padres, San Diego baseball fans went from excited to apoplectic over the course of seven pitches from reliever Craig Stammen, who gave up back-to-back-to-back-to-back dingers to batters nine thru three in the Nationals lineup. To make matters worse, the game was tied at 1–1 when Stammen entered the game, and he would wind up taking the loss:
Stammen’s humiliation is perhaps made even worse by the fact that he pitched the first seven years of his career for the Nationals, before joining the Padres in 2017. And, like, Eickhoff’s nightmare start, Stammen’s horrifying sequence stands out against recent baseball history. As you can imagine, back-to-back-to-back-to-back home run sequences do not happen very often, even across multiple pitchers:
Four consecutive dingers on seven pitches, plus the loss, probably seems like it can’t be beaten for pure agony, but consider the hideous inescapable embarrassment of taking the mound to start a game, with all your teammates and your manager and all those famously patient and forgiving Phillies fans expecting you to pitch your way deep into the game, and immediately serving up three consecutive home runs. Devastating.
So which of these poor suckers had it worse: the guy who got shelled by his former team in one exquisitely painful but short appearance; or the guy whose 11th start of the season turned rotten and wasted before he’d recorded a single out?