In 2005, Bruce Chen won 13 games for the Orioles with a better-than-league-average 3.83 ERA. In his previous seven seasons in the major league, his single-season high in victories had been seven. Now, he'd probably kill for just one.
Tomorrow night, Bruce makes his return to the city where he had his greatest success. He's riding a personal losing streak that has reached twelve games and spanned nearly four years. Since his last big league victory on October 2, 2005 (the final day of the season), the Panama native has gone 0-12 in 51 games with a 6.88 ERA and a 1.69 WHIP. He did most of that damage in 2006, when O's manager Sam Perlozzo was sadistic enough to pitch him in 40 games. Most of those were in the bullpen following an 0-5, 7.71 performance in his first nine starts, or else there's no telling how many more L's would be sprinkled across his record. He surrendered an astounding 28 home runs in just 98.2 innings; if he had made it to the 197 innings he'd reached the previous year, he could have served up 56 homers!
Texas picked him up in 2007, but had the good sense to allow him to pitch only five times. While his ERA was an unsightly 7.20, at least he didn't pick up any losses. He appears to have been out of baseball last year. But of course, you can always count on the Kansas City Royals to prolong the misery. They picked up the journeyman for 2009, and he joined the big league club a month ago. He's proceeded to lose all five of his starts, with a scoreless inning of mop-up relief as the only respite from the "L" train. He's almost halfway to Anthony Young's MLB-record 27 straight losses as a pitcher.
Of course, if he's ever going to win a game, he may not get a better chance than tomorrow night's game (if you believe in jinxes and reverse jinxes, make of this what you will). Bruce faces off against the quickly-unraveling Rich Hill, whose 7.64 ERA and 1.825 WHIP are even worse than his opponent. You'd have to look long and hard to find a worse pitching matchup.
Strap in, kids. It's the Resistible Force vs. the Movable Object. Bring your gloves and you just might catch a souvenir!