The Red Sox and Orioles played a marathon finale to their three game series (which, in terms of innings, almost lasted four). The six-plus hour affair probably wasn’t what either team had in mind on getaway day, but, for Adrian Gonzalez and Chris Davis, the afternoon must have seemed even longer.
By going 0-8 in Sunday’s 17-inning contest, Gonzalez and Davis joined a select group of only 151 batters since 1918 to come up empty in at least as many official at bats. The duo’s combined efforts also marked only the 27th game in which multiple players took a collar of at least eight at bats. Misery loves company, but it’s hard to say whether the two lefty sluggers took comfort in the other’s similar misfortune. However, if a couple of others had joined in, there probably would have been at least a measure of consolation. Since 1918, the most batters to go 0-8 or worse in the same game is four, a mark set by members of the Angels and Athletics on July 9, 1971 as well as the Astros and Padres on September 24 of that same season. In each of those games, the offenders could have held their heads high knowing their failures were hardly distinct.
In terms of individual futility, Gonzalez and Davis didn’t come close to matching the frustration of Charlie Pick, who went 0-11 on May 1, 1920. Fortunately for Pick, his struggles on that afternoon were overshadowed by a more noble accomplishment. In the same game, which ended as a 1-1 tie after 26 innings, Brooklyn Robins’ pitcher Leon Cadore and Boston Braves’ hurler Joe Oeschger each went the distance, setting a record for most innings pitched in a single game that, needless to say, still stands. Notably, Cadore also went 0-10 (along with teammate Chuck Ward), but considering his efforts on the mound, who could blame him?
Adding insult to injury for Davis was the fact that five of his eight outs came via the strikeout, making him the first player to suffer that fate since, well, Chris Davis. On September 7, 2011, Davis also struck out five times, this time against the Yankees in an 11-inning contest again won by the Orioles. That game was child’s play, however, as Davis only went 0-6.
Davis’ second five punch-out game makes him one of only 12 players to be retired on strikes at least as many times since 1918, with only Sammy Sosa (four) and Ray Lankford (three) having more. The Orioles’ lefty slugger had a chance to tie the major league record of six strikeouts in one game, but managed to avoid that stigma by grounding out in his final three times to the plate. Then again, if you include the two strikeouts Davis recorded as a pitcher after being brought into the game in the 16th inning, the DH-turned-reliever’s total of seven punch-outs would be the new record. Davis’ dual role as a winning pitcher and futile batsman also had other historical implications. According to Elias, he became the first player to go 0-8 and win a ballgame since Hall of Fame pitcher Rube Waddell turned the trick on July 4, 1905.
Thanks to two impressive innings of shutout relief, Davis was able to redeem his offensive futility with an accomplishment he’d likely trade for eight at bats any time. Unfortunately, for Gonzalez, there was no silver lining. In fact, bringing the affair full circle, the end of the game included a little bit of salt in his wound as the All Star went down swinging against Davis with the tying runs on base in the 17th inning. The Red Sox first baseman’s difficult afternoon not only made him the first cleanup hitter in team history to take such an expansive collar, but he also became only the 15th fourth place hitter to fail so often in the same game. Clearly, yesterday’s game is one Gonzalez would like to forget, but unless he, and the team, rebound from their slow start, the fans at Fenway probably won’t let him.