The 2013 Cubs can officially call themselves record setters, but it’s doubtful they wanted to earn this distinction.
In the sixth inning of the Cubs’ 10-7 extra-inning loss to the Giants on Sunday at Wrigley Field, starting pitcher Edwin Jackson and reliever Michael Bowden combined to throw five wild pitches. The performance set a new regular-season Major League record for the most wild pitches thrown in a single inning.
There had been five wild pitches in an inning before, though they came in the postseason, when Cardinals pitcher Rick Ankiel threw five all by himself in Game 1 of the 2000 NLDS against the Braves. Four wild pitches in a single inning has been seen seven times, most recently by the Mariners on Aug. 17, 2008.
The frame was a particularly ugly one for the two Cubs pitchers, who in addition to making five errant tosses walked four batters and surrendered four runs.
Jackson started the inning with his team holding a 4-1 lead on San Francisco. He issued a leadoff walk to Hunter Pence before allowing him to advance to second on wild pitch No. 1. After walking Brandon Belt, Jackson yielded a run-scoring double to Gregor Blanco. He struck out Hector Sanchez and walked Brandon Crawford, with ball four to the Giants’ shortstop being wild pitch No. 2, allowing Belt to score.
Bowden then replaced Jackson, whose pitch count had run up to 112. Bowden threw his first wild pitch during the at-bat of pinch-hitter Nick Noonan, allowing Crawford to move up to second. Noonan then singled in a pair of runs to give the Giants a 5-4 lead and moved around the bases when Bowden threw two more wild pitches during Angel Pagan’s at-bat. The inning finally came to an end when Marco Scutaro hit into a double play.
After the game, manager Dale Sveum made sure the blame didn’t go to catcher Dioner Navarro, who got a workout during the inning by running behind home plate to secure the off-target throws.
“One of them threw three fastballs right in the dirt,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “You’re not going to block fastballs when they’re cold and thrown 94 miles an hour. One splitter was pretty much unblockable, and there was probably one of the five that you were able of have a chance of blocking in that half inning.”
Bowden also said that there was little chance for Navarrp and that there was no confusion between he and the catcher, either.
“There wasn’t a mix-up,” Bowden said. “Besides that first one that advanced a guy to second base, they didn’t hurt us. That was it, I was just trying to stay down in the zone and execute pitches and I spiked a few. Those are very, very hard pitches to block. I just mis-threw a few.”