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The Game Changers: A Comprehensive Guide to Blown Saves in Baseball

Blown Saves in Baseball: Understanding the Basics

Baseball has been around for centuries, and every season brings with it new excitement and challenges. One of the things that make this sport so interesting is the unpredictability of its outcomes.

Anything can happen, including a lead slip, a win snatched away, and the dreaded blown save. A blown save refers to a situation where a relief pitcher fails to maintain a lead or a tie during the latter part of the game, usually the 9th inning, leading to a loss or no decision for the team.

As you can imagine, blowing a save can be a significant setback for a team, especially if they have been dominating the game. Here’s what you need to know about blown saves in baseball.

What is a Blown Save? If you’re new to baseball, you might wonder what a save is, to begin with.

A save opportunity is a situation where a team has a lead of no more than three runs in the 9th inning, or starting from the 7th inning, if the lead is four runs. The relief pitcher who comes into the game at this point becomes eligible for a save if they maintain the lead and secure a win for their team.

If the reliever fails to do so, either by giving up runs that tie the game or relinquishing the lead, they are charged with a blown save. For instance, let’s say the Boston Red Sox are playing the New York Yankees, and the score is tied 4-4 in the 8th inning.

The Red Sox coach sends a relief pitcher, John Smith, to the mound. Because the score is tied, this is not a save situation yet, but if the Red Sox can score a run or more in the top of the 9th inning, they’ll have a save opportunity.

Let’s say they do, and the score is now 5-4 in favor of the Red Sox. It’s now Smith’s turn to protect the lead and secure the win.

If he manages to do so, he’ll get credited with a save. However, if he gives up runs that tie the game, or worse, surrenders the lead, he’ll earn a blown save.

Circumstances for a Blown Save

A blown save can occur in different scenarios, but the most common is when the reliever gives up runs that tie or lose the game. A blown save can also happen if, after giving up some runs, the relief pitcher is replaced by another pitcher who gives up more runs, leading to a loss.

Additionally, a blown save can occur if a runner is on base when the reliever comes in, and they go on to score, tying or winning the game for their team. Here’s an example: let’s say the Los Angeles Dodgers are playing the San Francisco Giants, and the score is 3-2 in the 9th inning.

The Giants have a runner on second base. The Dodgers’ coach sends in their closer, Jack Thompson, to secure the win and earn a save.

However, Thompson gives up a hit, and the Giants tie the game, putting the winning run on third base. Thompson manages to get the next batter out, ending the inning.

In this case, Thompson has been credited with a blown save, even though he prevented the winning run from scoring.

Blown Saves and Game Outcomes

If a relief pitcher blows a save, it doesn’t necessarily mean they automatically get charged with a loss. There are instances where the team goes on to win the game despite the relief pitcher’s mistakes.

For example, if a closer blows a save in the 9th inning, but their team scores a run in the top of the 10th inning, that player will be credited with a win, despite the error. Similarly, if a relief pitcher comes into the game in a non-save situation and surrenders the lead, they won’t be charged with a blown save.

However, if a relief pitcher blows a save and their team goes on to lose the game, they’ll be charged with a blown save and a loss. This can be particularly frustrating for a pitcher, who in some cases, only gave up a lone run before losing the game on a walk-off homer or an error by their teammate.

It’s worth noting that a pitcher’s performance doesn’t solely rely on the number of saves they earn or the number of blown saves they rack up. Other metrics such as ERA, WHIP, and FIP are critical in evaluating pitcher performance.

Conclusion

In summary, a blown save is a situation where a relief pitcher fails to maintain a lead or a tie in the latter part of the game, leading to a loss or no decision for the team. A blown save can occur in various scenarios, but the most common is when the reliever gives up runs that tie or lose the game.

While blowing a save can be frustrating for a pitcher and their team, it doesn’t necessarily reflect their overall performance. Pitchers can be evaluated based on other metrics and team outcomes, such as wins, losses, and earned runs.

History and Statistics of Blown Saves: A Closer Look

Blown saves have been an official statistic in Major League Baseball (MLB) since 1988, when the Rolaids Relief Man Award was introduced. This award was created to recognize the best relief pitcher in the American and National Leagues and was based on a point system that awarded points for saves, wins, and games finished while subtracting points for losses and blown saves.

As a result, blown saves have become a crucial statistic for evaluating the effectiveness of relief pitchers. Here’s a closer look at the history and statistics of blown saves in baseball.

Difference Between Blown Saves and Blown Holds

While blown saves are well-known, blown holds are also a possible occurrence for middle relievers. A blown hold refers to a situation where a reliever enters the game with a lead but relinquishes it before the closer comes into the game.

Unlike blown saves, blown holds do not count as an official statistic. Nonetheless, they are still significant in evaluating the effectiveness of middle relievers.

Pitcher with the Most Blown Saves in MLB History

Over the years, many pitchers have established themselves as “closer” specialists, bringing an end to the game and successfully securing the win for their team. However, some have struggled with blown saves, and in some cases, these blown saves have led to their team’s defeat.

Goose Gossage and Rollie Fingers, both Hall of Famers, have been tremendous closers in their careers, but only one of them has the record for the most blown saves Gossage. During his 22-year career, the flamethrower accumulated 112 blown saves, while Fingers had 108 blown saves in his 17-year career.

Rules regarding Blown Saves in One Game

Sometimes, circumstances arise that cause a pitcher to blow a save, then return for another inning of work in the same game without the opportunity to get a save. If a reliever blows a save in one inning and returns to the game without giving up the lead, they are not eligible for a save opportunity since their team already blew the lead in a previous inning.

Explanation of a Relief Pitcher Being Ineligible for a Save after Blowing a Save

If a relief pitcher blows a save, they can still pitch in the same game, but they are not eligible for a save opportunity, even if their team takes the lead again. This is because the pitcher already earned a blown save by giving up the lead or tying the game.

Officially, a save opportunity is only available to a pitcher who enters the game when their team has a lead of no more than three runs in the 9th inning or later. If the pitcher enters the game before that point and blows a save, then they are ineligible for a save opportunity, even if the game becomes a save situation again later on.

Possibility of a Blown Save Occurring Before the Ninth Inning

While blown saves are often associated with the ninth inning, they can also occur before that point. In fact, if a relief pitcher enters the game in the 8th inning with a three-run lead and loses that lead, they will earn a blown save.

The same applies if they enter the game before that point, provided it’s after the fifth inning. MLB rules state that “the official scorer shall credit a save to a relief pitcher who meets all four of the following conditions: He is the finishing pitcher in a game won by his team, and He is not the winning pitcher, and He is credited with at least 1/3 of an inning pitched, and He satisfies one of the following conditions: (1) He enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least one inning.

(2) He enters the game, regardless of the count, with the potential tying run either on base, at bat, or on deck. (3) He pitches effectively for at least three innings.”

Conclusion

Blown saves have become an essential statistic in evaluating the effectiveness of relief pitchers. While it can be frustrating for pitchers and their teams, it often provides an opportunity to learn and improve.

Blown saves can occur before the 9th inning, and a pitcher who’s earned a blown save is ineligible for a save opportunity later in the same game. With this information, fans can appreciate the efforts of their favorite closers and middle relievers while also understanding the importance of blown saves in baseball.

Blown saves have become an essential statistic in evaluating the effectiveness of relief pitchers in baseball. Blown saves can happen before the 9th inning, and once earned, a pitcher is ineligible for a save opportunity later in the same game.

These statistics provide an opportunity for learning and improvement and highlight the importance of defensive strategy and pitching excellence in baseball. To recap, blown saves are significant in evaluating a pitcher’s performance, both in wins and losses, and provide essential data to improve overall team effectiveness.

FAQs:

Q: What is a blown save? A: A blown save occurs when a relief pitcher fails to maintain a lead or tie in the latter part of the game, leading to a loss or no decision for the team.

Q: Can a blown save happen before the 9th inning? A: Yes, if a relief pitcher enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs after the fifth inning and subsequently loses the lead, they will earn a blown save.

Q: Can a pitcher who is charged with a blown save still pitch in the same game? A: Yes, a pitcher who blows a save can still pitch in the same game but will be ineligible for a save opportunity, even if their team takes the lead again.

Q: Is the blown hold statistic related to blown saves? A: Yes, blown holds refer to a situation where a reliever enters the game with a lead but relinquishes it before the closer comes into the game.

However, it does not count as an official statistic like blown saves. Q: Who is the pitcher with the most blown saves?

A: Goose Gossage is the pitcher with the most blown saves in MLB history, accumulating 112 blown saves during his 22-year career.

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