Sergio Santos AP

Toronto’s bullpen melts down in epic fashion against the Twins


A little while ago, the Blue Jays and Twins completed one of the craziest half-innings of baseball that you are ever going to see.

Blue Jays right-hander Steve Delabar entered the bottom of the eighth inning with a 5-3 lead, but he issued walks to Josmil Pinto and Chris Herrmann before Eduardo Nunez moved them over with a sacrifice bunt. Sergio Santos, Toronto’s fill-in closer with Casey Janssen on the disabled list, then took over. And that’s when things got really crazy.

Santos failed to retire any of three batters he faced. In addition to walking them all, he threw three wild pitches which allowed three runs to score and put the Twins in front. Per Jesse Spector of the Sporting News, he’s the first pitcher in the live ball era to throw zero innings while walking three batters and throwing three wild pitches. Seriously. He threw just four out of 16 pitches for strikes. A night to forget for Santos. Oh, but it didn’t end there for the Blue Jays.

J.A. Happ took over for Santos and issued two more walks, including one with the bases loaded. Then we finally saw our first hit of the inning, on a two-run single from Jason Kubel. Happ walked Pinto before retiring Herrmann and Nunez to finally end the nightmare frame.

All told, the Twins scored six runs on one hit, eight walks, and three wild pitches to take a 9-5 lead. Glen Perkins tossed a scoreless top of the ninth inning to finish off the wild comeback victory and sweep the day-night doubleheader.

Per Rhett Bollinger of, the last time a team drew eight walks in one inning was when the Rangers did it against the Orioles on April 19, 1996.

UPDATE: You can watch the inning unfold here. But I’ll warn you, it’s ugly.

Which teams improved and declined the most in 2015?

Joe Maddon

I was curious about which MLB teams changed their fortunes the most this season compared to last year, so I crunched the numbers.

First, here are the biggest win total improvements from 2014 to 2015:

+24 Cubs
+21 Rangers
+16 Astros
+15 Diamondbacks
+13 Twins
+11 Mets
+10 Blue Jays
+10 Cardinals
+10 Pirates

The top five teams on the biggest-improvement list all had managers in their first season on the job, led by Joe Maddon joining the Cubs after tons of success with the Rays. Also worth noting: Of the nine teams with the biggest win total improvement, eight made the playoffs. Only the Twins improved to double-digit games and still failed to make the playoffs.

Now, here are the biggest win total declines from 2014 to 2015:

-20 Athletics
-16 Tigers
-15 Orioles
-14 Brewers
-13 Nationals
-13 Angels
-12 Braves
-12 Reds
-11 Mariners

Not surprisingly, a whole lot of those teams have changed managers, general managers, or both. And a couple more may still do so before the offseason gets underway. Oakland retained manager Bob Melvin despite an MLB-high 20-win dropoff and just promoted Billy Beane from general manager to vice president of baseball operations.

MLB games were six minutes shorter this year

Pitch Clock
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According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.

The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.

Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.

It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.