In a game almost as improbable as the Tampa Bay forest green, softball uniforms, the Yankees lost, 4-2, in ten innings to the Devil Rays tonight. The D-Rays broke the game open in the top of the tenth with Mariano Rivera on the mound, and the Yankees left the bases loaded in the bottom of the tenth.
However, the oddest thing about the game was that the Yankees drew 14 walks. Fourteen! Every spot in the order walked. Jason Giambi walked four times. And just one of those fourteen was an intentional walk. Of the five Tampa Bay pitchers, four threw at least one walk, and starter Seth McClung walked seven in five innings. He has issued 22 walks in 22.1 innings this season. Tampa Bay threw 206 pitches on the night.
To put it in perspective, the AL record for walks in a game is 20 by the Red Sox (or rather issued by the Tigers) in a 14-13 twelfth-inning loss on September 17, 1920. It's 16 in the NL. The nine-inning AL record is 18 (Detroit vs. Phila., May 9, 1916 and Cleveland vs. Boston, May 20, 1948). The NL record is 17. So it was not a record, but it wasn't that far from being one.
And yet the oddest thing might be that none of those walkees came around to score. The only two Yankee runs were scored on a Damon single and Sheffield homer. The Yankees had six hits to go with the 14 walks. Given two doubleplays and two runs, New York left 16 men on base.
Tim McCarver, take note. Those walks don't always come around to haunt you.
Fourteen of the 48 men who came to the plate for the Yankees walked. The Yankees batted .188 and slugged .281 on the night but had an on-base percentage of .435. The Yankees drew 3.5 times the expected walk total based on last years major-league numbers.
Now, given that the odds of drawing a walk in any given plate appearance using last year's numbers was 8.16%. So what's the probability of drawing 14 walks in 48 plate appearances? It's 0.0016% or about one in 64,226. I can't imagine what the odds of drawing 14 walks and scoring two runs are at 1 AM, but they're somewhere in the neighborhood of David Bell returning as the starting third baseman for the Phils next year. And Leon is getting laaaaaarger.