Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mike Oquist, 1994 Topps Team Stadium Club #276

One thing you may not know about me (because I just made it up) is that I am always looking for any excuse to talk about Mike Oquist. The former Oriole righthander's name was on the lips of many a baseball fan and writer last night when Royals long reliever Vin Mazzaro matched a rather dubious Oquist feat.

Kansas City was already in a desperate way when starter Kyle Davies left with an injury after facing only four batters in the first inning. Nathan Adcock was not particularly sharp in relief, allowing two of Davies' runners to score and permitting a run of his own in an inning and two-thirds. Adcock walked the leadoff man in the third inning, causing Royals manager Ned Yost to summon Mazzaro from the bullpen. The third-year veteran, making his second appearance after replacing the injured Bruce Chen on the roster May 10, got through the third inning without a problem. Things got a little rocky in the fourth, but the Indians had only plated one run in the frame with two outs, two on, and Carlos Santana at the dish. Then, disaster struck:

Walk, 3-run double, 1-run single, single, 2-run double, single, 3-run home run, and mercifully, a strikeout. That's 10 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks, with 9 runs scoring with 2 outs. A 3-0 Tribe lead had ballooned to 13-0. Yost sent Mazzaro out to start the fifth, and some have questioned the skipper's motives. But having already burned through two pitchers, and probably hoping to salvage something from the righty's outing, there's a case to be made for that decision. Needless to say, it didn't work out too well. He retired Shin-Soo Choo on a fly ball, but the next four at-bats went double, walk, single, 1-run single, and that was all she wrote for the shell-shocked Mazzaro...but his ERA wasn't finished taking its beating. Reliever Jeremy Jeffress allowed all three inherited runners to score on a Matt LaPorta double and a groundout by Jack Hannahan. It was 17-1 at that point, en route to a 19-1 romp.

Vin Mazzaro's final line: 2.1 IP, 11 H, 14 ER, 3 BB, 2 K. He retired 7 of 21 batters faced, and saw his ERA skyrocket from 4.50 to 22.74. To add insult to injury, he was demoted to AAA Omaha right after the game. He was the first pitcher to allow 14 runs in a game since...drumroll please...Mike Oquist, who coughed up 14 in a 5-inning start for Oakland against the Yankees on August 3, 1998. In a few respects,  Vin's blowup exceeded Mike's drubbing. He did it in relief, and in nearly three fewer innings. No one had ever given up that many runs in so few innings, in fact. As for relief pitchers, the last to get hung with a 14-spot was the great Les "Buster" McCrabb of the 1942 Philadelphia Athletics.

If you think I'm talking about Vin Mazzaro as a diversion from the Orioles' late-inning meltdown in Fenway last night, well...hey! Look over there!

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