We’re 20 games into our MLB The Show simulation, and the Yankees sit atop the AL East at 11-9. It’s not a great start to the year, by their Pythagorean winning percentage is .576, indicating they’re a better true talent team than they appear early on. The team’s pitching staff continues to be the best in the league, and the Yankees took series against the Oakland A’s and Cincinnati Reds to stay abreast of a pesky Blue Jays squad.
This was meant to simply be a recap post, but something happened in our sim that deserves a full article. The Reds beat the Yankees 17-0, which on its own would be quite something. The entirety of the Highlanders-Yankees baseball franchise has lost 7840 games, of which only 118 have been by 13 runs or more. That’s 1.5% of all losses in the history of the organization that have even come close to what the Reds did on April 17 in the Bronx.
A loss like that moves past annoyance and even tragedy, and becomes a full-fledged farce. These are the games where position players throw multiple innings and batters on both sides swing at anything close, doing whatever they can do hasten an inevitable end. Here’s the thing, though: through the entire game, Jordan Montgomery was on the mound.
The left-hander inexplicably pitched all nine innings with this line: 22 H, 17 ER, 5 BB, 8 K. It’s unclear why e-Aaron Boone left his starter in so long. Maybe Monty played a Mr. Jello-like prank on the Yankees’ manager, or maybe in the absence of Austin Romine, the team didn’t have a position player they felt comfortable sending to the mound.
Whatever the reason, Montgomery took his first loss of the season in truly historic fashion. There have been 119 complete games in history where a pitcher has allowed at least ten runs, and we have enough information to compile a Game Score for that start:
All the games played before 1954 are bordered in blue. This list is full of names like Sam Sad Jones, Hooks Dauss, and Mysterious Walker. Jordan Montgomery was the first pitcher in the lifetime of most readers to have a start this terrible, and last this long.
Look at those names again. Mysterious Walker is not a real name, and he didn’t play “real” baseball. There are a few marks of delineation throughout baseball history: post-WWII and post-integration, or the end of the deadball era in 1920 are three of the most common. Let’s look at that last one for a moment.
Baseball-Reference’s Play Index feature, in its ultra-helpfulness, allows you to query up to 300 results for a set of circumstances. For this query, I simply searched for the 300 worst Game Scores since 1920, regardless of outing length, and tossed in our virtual Montgomery disaster:
Gumby is even farther down the scary quadrant of our chart. The only pitchers close to him made their starts in the 20s and 30s. The closest modern performance is Colby Lewis, who gave up 13 runs in 2.1 innings in 2014.
I never want to watch a Yankee loss, and especially one that was such a blowout. As longtime reader Long Time Listener would say, “this game brought to you by Netflix”. Yet in a macabre way, I can’t help but wonder what this game would have looked like. How long would a real manager have let Monty go? He gave up ten runs in the final two frames, and Montgomery in the eighth would be an unusual sight regardless of the score in a normal world.
This is the kind of game you can only get in a digital reality, and is likely going to be a highlight—if not a happy one—of our entire simmed season.