Scoring double-digit runs in an inning is not something you see very often. The 1930 season was the highest scoring one in the World Series era, and even then that year only saw teams score an average of 5.49 runs per game. If you go to a game today, there’s a very good chance you won’t see 10 runs total, never mind from one team in one inning.
Due to all that, if a team does manage the feat of scoring 10 or more runs in an inning, you can reasonably expect that team to win the game. In addition to just scoring that much, you’re also really messing up a team’s pitching. In most instances, a double-digit burst of runs might see a team go through a couple different pitchers just to get one out. It’s very unlikely for a team to overcome all of that.
However, on some occasions, you sometimes can.
Hosting the Philadelphia Athletics on June 3, 1933, the Yankees gave the ball to pitcher Don Brennan. He started the game off an a good note, retiring six of the first seven batters he faced while working around a Jimmie Foxx walk in the second inning. After his offense gave him a 3-0 lead to work with, he started the third with a strikeout. That would be the final batter he retired.
After two walks, Tony Lazzeri botched a fielder’s choice, loading the bases. Brennan then allowed three consecutive doubles, plating five runs. That ended Brennan’s day after just 2.1 innings, but the damage was hardly over yet. Danny MacFayden replaced him, but he didn’t do much to change the Yankees’ fortunes. The A’s went single, hit by pitch, fly out, walk, single, and double off MacFayden, adding another five runs. The Yankees ended up replacing another pitcher and this time brought in Jumbo Brown. He eventually got out of it, but not before another two hits and one last run. By the time the dust settled, the A’s had taken an 11-3 lead after a 11 spot in the inning. They put up so many runs that they went past all the “crooked numbers.”
The pitcher, Brown, actually got the Yankees one of the runs back with an RBI single in the bottom of the third. However, A’s pitcher Gowell Claset, who had replaced Philly’s starter in the second inning, got out of that frame, and followed that up with a scoreless fourth. Sure, the Yankees had the likes of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in the lineup, but they were down 11-4. It wouldn’t have been unreasonable for the Athletics to think that they were pretty much home free. Then the fifth inning started.
Lazzeri’s third-inning error maybe didn’t cost the Yankees all 11 of their runs, but it certainly helped escalate things. It was only right that he was then part of starting the Yankees’ answer.
Lazzeri led off the fifth inning with a home run. That was followed by two-straight singles before Claset retired Brown in a battle of the pitchers. The top of the order added two more runs thanks to a single and an error. That chased Claset from the game with the Yankees’ big guns now due up.
Jim Peterson came in and walked Ruth, followed by Gehrig driving home two runs with a single. In a game full of big blows, the biggest came when Ben Chapman then homered. The Yankees had come all the way back after trailing 11-3, taking a 12-11 lead on the dinger. The inning wasn’t over either, as two more runs scored on a Frankie Crosetti single. The A’s finally got out of it after that, but it required a second out made by Brown. By the time the inning was over, the Yankees had answered the 11-run inning with a 10-run frame of their own. The Yankees held the lead from there and even added to it, eventually winning 17-11.
While the offense was obviously the big story in the game, Brown ended up being a big unsung hero, throwing 6.1 scoreless innings after coming in during the chaos. As for the offense, every starter, even the pitcher Brennan, recorded at least one hit. It was a very even split among the offense in general, as Ruth, Chapman, and Joe Sewell led the Yankees with three RBI each.
As a general strategy, I would probably advise against giving up a 10-spot in a game, but at least on this day, it wasn’t a death blow.
New York Times, June 4, 1933