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Last night, Aaron Harang gave up 8 runs to the Braves. It was his 7th career start with 8 or more runs allowed. That’s far from a record, though. Who has the most such disastrous starts?

I used Baseball-Reference’s marvelous Play Index

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to search for pitchers (since baseball was integrated in 1947) who have given up at least 8 runs in a start (earned or unearned). Here are all the pitchers with at least 13 such games:

UPDATE 2/17/2012: In honor of Tim Wakefield’s retirement, I’ve added in the results from the 2011 season, and guess what? Wakefield is now tied for the post-1947 lead. As is Livan Hernandez. Wakefield had 2 8-run starts in 2011, while Livan added 1.

Rk Player 8+ Run Starts  Game List W L ERA IP H HR BB SO
1 Tim Wakefield
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20 Ind. Games
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0 19 11.74 102.0 177 29 63 60
2 Kenny Rogers
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20 Ind. Games
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0 17 17.49 76.2 169 29 51 41
3 Livan Hernandez
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20 Ind. Games
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0 16 14.59 90.2 181 33 49 52
4 Jaime Navarro
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19 Ind. Games
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0 14 15.21 84.0 178 23 57 32
5 Jack Morris
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18 Ind. Games
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1 16 12.81 91.1 153 31 64 49
6 Jamie Moyer
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17 Ind. Games
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0 17 13.93 83.1 166 33 33 56
7 Darryl Kile
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17 Ind. Games
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1 15 16.15 68.0 149 22 41 56
8 Roger Clemens
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17 Ind. Games
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0 14 15.38 74.1 153 18 47 71
9 Jamey Wright
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15 Ind. Games
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0 12 16.86 63.0 132 14 42 34
10 Jeff Suppan
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15 Ind. Games
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0 13 15.87 66.1 143 16 35 31
11 Andy Pettitte
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15 Ind. Games
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1 10 18.70 55.1 137 17 33 39
12 Randy Johnson
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15 Ind. Games
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0 15 16.39 67.0 120 18 58 75
13 Chuck Finley
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15 Ind. Games
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0 15 19.12 56.0 128 22 37 46
14 Kevin Brown
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15 Ind. Games
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1 13 13.30 66.1 142 10 29 37
15 Early Wynn
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14 Ind. Games
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1 13 11.29 91.2 162 13 47 43
16 Aaron Sele
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14 Ind. Games
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0 13 20.54 47.1 123 18 31 33
17 Nolan Ryan
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14 Ind. Games
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0 14 11.47 80.0 115 18 60 85
18 Gaylord Perry
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14 Ind. Games
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0 13 11.72 76.0 129 13 45 53
19 Alex Kellner
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14 Ind. Games
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0 13 12.63 77.2 149 18 47 28
20 Josh Fogg
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14 Ind. Games
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0 12 17.62 54.2 118 23 28 35
21 Steve Carlton
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14 Ind. Games
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0 11 14.08 62.0 132 21 31 34
22 Mark Buehrle
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14 Ind. Games
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0 14 16.32 60.2 138 22 27 39
23 Pedro Astacio
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14 Ind. Games
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0 13 15.86 63.0 125 31 39 40
24 David Wells
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13 Ind. Games
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0 12 16.39 57.2 121 23 28 40
25 Steve Sparks
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13 Ind. Games
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0 12 13.99 63.2 112 26 35 26
26 Sidney Ponson
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13 Ind. Games
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0 12 15.55 55.0 112 21 34 38
27 Phil Niekro
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13 Ind. Games
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0 12 11.28 67.0 118 14 26 43
28 Rodrigo Lopez
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13 Ind. Games
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0 9 17.62 47.0 110 19 31 34
29 Chris Carpenter
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13 Ind. Games
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0 13 14.79 56.0 115 19 37 42
30 Tim Belcher
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13 Ind. Games
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0 13 13.78 64.0 128 25 28 35
31 Bronson Arroyo
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13 Ind. Games
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0 12 18.36 50.0 120 20 19 35
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
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: View Play Index Tool Used
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Updated 2/17/2012.

I love the mix of players on this list. You’ve got lots of decent or mediocre starters (Navarro, Livan, Wright, Suppan, Fogg, etc.), but also some great pitchers (Clemens, Johnson, Ryan, Carlton, etc.). Like with Dumb Luck Wins, you have to be fairly good to amass  a lot of 8+ run games. If teams didn’t see some ability there, they wouldn’t keep running these guys out to get steamrolled.

I also checked to see which pitchers had the most 8+ run starts in a given year. Six guys have had at least 5 such starts in the same season:

Rk Player Year 8+ Run Starts W L ERA IP H HR BB SO
1 Jaime Navarro
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1997
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7 Ind. Games
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0 5 14.56 34.0 70 6 24 12
2 Alex Kellner
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1950
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6 Ind. Games
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0 6 13.24 34.0 62 8 22 12
3 Tim Wakefield
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1996
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5 Ind. Games
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0 5 7.26 31.0 48 6 17 15
4 Mike Hampton
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2001
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5 Ind. Games
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0 4 14.69 22.2 47 5 13 15
5 Tim Belcher
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1997
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5 Ind. Games
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0 5 14.04 25.0 52 9 10 12
6 James Baldwin
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1997
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5 Ind. Games
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0 5 12.00 27.0 51 6 16 16
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
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: View Play Index Tool Used
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Generated 4/27/2011.

Jaime Navarro’s 1997 season might be the worst full season for a starting pitcher, ever. He allowed 11 runs twice, 9 runs five times, 8 runs once, and 7 runs three times. That’s 10 starts with 7+ runs allowed (out of 33 total)! Why the White Sox let him make all his starts that year, I will never understand, though they somehow managed to go 15-18 in Navarro’s starts. They actually won 3 of those 10 games in which he allowed 7 or more runs, including a 14-12 win in a game in which Navarro gave up 11 runs.

Amazingly, three of these seasons are from 1997, and two are from the same team–Navarro and James Baldwin on the ’97 White Sox. That team could really hit (Frank Thomas had a 7.2 WAR season), but their pitching kept them from being more than average. They got 96 starts from players with an ERA over 5 (Navarro, Baldwin, and Doug Drabek) and finished 80-81, 6 games back of the Indians. If you replaced those guys with 3 mediocre pitchers, the Sox probably make the playoffs.

There were 37 other seasons with at least four 8+ run starts. Rodrigo Lopez (2003 and 2005) and Murry Dickson (1951 and 1953) both did it twice.

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