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Last night through 5 innings, the Braves’ Brandon Beachy had allowed just one baserunner–a home run by Raul IbaƱez–but nonetheless was trailing 1-0. The Braves scored the next inning and Beachy ended up with a no-decision, but for a while it looked like Beachy might join an exclusive club of starters who’ve been given a “loss” despite allowing only 1 baserunner.

In the vast majority of these cases, the pitcher was either injured or ejected very early in the game. In some cases, they weren’t even in the game to see the lone baserunner come in to score. Only a select few pitched more than 2 innings.

Here’s the full list:

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt IP R BR BF Runner got on via
1 Tyson Ross
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2011-05-19
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OAK
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MIN
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L 1-11 0.0 1 1 1 1B
2 Matt Cain
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2007-09-15
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SFG
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SDP
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L 0-6 6.0 1 1 19 3B
3 Ervin Santana
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2006-08-10
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LAA
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CLE
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L 2-14 0.1 1 1 2 1B
4 Brad Penny
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2004-08-08
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LAD
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PHI
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L 1-4 0.2 1 1 3 HR
5 Joe Kennedy
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2003-05-31
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TBD
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ANA
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L 1-6 1.0 1 1 4 3B
6 Darren Dreifort
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1998-08-22
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LAD
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ATL
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L 5-7 1.0 1 1 4 HBP
7 Tom Candiotti
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1998-06-07
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OAK
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ARI
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L 4-12 1.0 1 1 4 BB
8 Jamie McAndrew
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1995-08-28
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MIL
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CHW
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L 5-6 0.0 1 1 1 2B
9 Dave LaPoint
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1987-09-07
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CHW
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MIN
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L 1-8 0.2 1 1 3 1B
10 Craig Swan
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1981-04-26
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NYM
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MON
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L 6-7 0.0 1 1 1 1B
11 Paul Moskau
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1978-08-24
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CIN
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STL
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L 3-4 1.0 1 1 4 HR
12 Jim Barr
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1977-09-05
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SFG
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ATL
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L 0-4 0.0 1 1 1 1B
13 Ken Forsch
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1977-07-07
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HOU
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LAD
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L 4-7 0.1 1 1 2 1B
14 Gary Nolan
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1972-09-07
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CIN
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SDP
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L 0-2 1.0 1 1 4 HR
15 Dick Drago
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1971-07-30
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KCR
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BAL
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L 0-1 4.0 1 1 13 HR
16 Bill Henry
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1968-06-16
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SFG
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NYM
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L 1-3 0.1 1 1 2 BB
17 Hal Brown
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1963-06-14
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HOU
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SFG
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L 1-2 7.0 1 1 22 HR
18 Joe Bonikowski
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1962-06-20
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MIN
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CHW
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L 1-5 2.0 1 1 7 BB
19 Billy Pierce
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1962-06-14
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SFG
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CIN
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L 0-8 0.1 1 1 2 2B
20 Art Ceccarelli
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1959-08-23
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CHC
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MLN
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L 0-2 6.0 1 1 20 2B
21 Billy Hoeft
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1958-05-15
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DET
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CLE
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L 5-8 2.0 1 1 7 1B
22 Art Schallock
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1955-08-03
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BAL
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KCA
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L 1-5 0.0 1 1 1 1B
23 Lefty Chambers
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1953-06-02
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STL
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PHI
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L 0-5 0.1 1 1 2 BB
24 Dutch Leonard
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1948-05-02
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PHI
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BRO
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L 6-9 0.1 1 1 2 Hit*
25 Wayne LaMaster
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1938-05-05
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PHI
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CHC
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L 2-21 0.0 1 1 1 Hit*
26 Dick Coffman
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1935-08-13
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SLB
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PHA
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L 1-14 0.2 1 1 3 Hit*
27 Lefty Weinert
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1922-09-07
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PHI
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NYG
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L 6-13 0.0 1 1 1 BB
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
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: View Play Index Tool Used
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Generated 9/8/2011.

* For games prior to 1950, pitchers’ hits allowed are not broken down into singles/doubles/triples. All we know is that these 3 hits weren’t homers.

I don’t have full records for how each of these pitchers was knocked out of the game, but I can say that since 1998, the breakdown is as follows:

  • Tyson Ross: strained oblique
  • Matt Cain: no injury, pitched 6 innings
  • Ervin Santana: bruised knee caused by a line drive
  • Brad Penny: strained biceps
  • Joe Kennedy: shoulder stiffness
  • Darren Dreifort: (this is the best one) cuts to throwing elbow sustained while brawling with Andres Galarraga after Dreifort hit Galarraga with a pitch for the 2nd time in a week
  • Tom Candiotti: back spasms

So that’s 4 pitching-related injuries, one batted-ball injury, one fighting injury, and… Matt Cain. I’m assuming most of the other games on this list were injuries, too, though a few of them may have been ejections. It’s hard to get records for either before the mid-90s or so.

Cain is the only pitcher since 1963 to pitch at least 6 innings, allow only 1 baserunner, and still get hung with the Loss. For a pitcher who has been so abused by his team’s disappearing offense, this makes perfect sense. Oh, and it gets better: that “triple” Cain allowed was actually a misplay made by Barry Bonds on a catchable ball at the left-field wall. A left-fielder who still had functioning knees likely would have made the play, preventing Cain’s only run and baserunner.

Here are brief breakdowns of the other 3 pitchers to go more than 2 innings:

  • Dick Drago actually pitched a complete game despite only going 4 innings. He gave up a solo homer to Frank Robinson but nothing else. Jim Palmer pitched 5 shutout innings for the Orioles, who won when the game was called due to rain after 4 and a half. Drago is tied for the shortest complete game in MLB history.
  • Hal Brown, who pitched for the Houston Colts (or Colt .45s) before they became the Astros, gave up a solo homer to Tom Haller in the 2nd inning and then nothing else before being pulled after 7 innings. The Giants’ Jack Sanford went 8 and a third innings; by the time he gave up a run in the 9th, the Colts’ bullpen had allowed another run, thus keeping Brown on the hook for the loss.
  • Art Ceccarelli gave up a double to Johnny Logan in the 5th. Logan eventually scored on a squeeze bunt by opposing pitcher Bob Buhl. Buhl pitched a shutout but allowed a whopping 11 baserunners–6 hits, 4 walks, and a hit batsman.

All of this just reinforces the silly capriciousness of the pitcher-win and pitcher-loss statistics. If a pitcher like Tyson Ross can face 1 batter, get injured before that batter even scores, and still get the “loss,” and if a pitcher like Matt Cain can be absolutely dominant and still get the “loss,” then what’s the point, really?

Hmm, maybe the point is just to please weirdos like me who take pleasure in tracking down arcane and unlikely factoids from baseball history. Yeah, I’m sure that’s it. Thanks, baseball!

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