Really, it was just one bad inning.
Okay, two bad innings. But the second bad inning was no different from bad innings suffered by pitchers almost every day of the week, all summer long.
Vin Mazzaro's first bad inning Monday night in Kansas City, though?
With Royals starter Kyle Davies exiting in the first inning with a shoulder injury, manager Ned Yost was forced to empty his bullpen early. Mazzaro, scheduled to start against the Indians Wednesday, was instead pressed into service in the third inning Monday, and retired his first three batters.
Then came the fourth.
Carlos Santana walked.
Travis Hafner doubled, driving in all three runners.
Orlando Cabrera singled, driving in Hafner.
Travis Buck reached on an infield single.
LaPorta doubled, driving in Cabrera and Buck.
Brantley homered, driving in everyone.
Yep, that's a 10-run inning. Mazzaro struck out A. Cabrera to end the nastiness, but, as the announcers like to say, the damage was done. Bad as it was to allow 10 runs, however, it was not HISTORIC damage. Lots of relievers have given up 10 runs in an appearance - heck, just since 1919, 148 pitchers have done it. Shoot, it wasn't even historic for the Royals: Kansas City's Jimmy Gobble did it less than three years ago. There are some pretty familiar names on the list of relievers who have allowed 10 runs - Joe Sambito, Calvin Schiraldi, Mel Rojas, Dave LaRoche, Spec Shea, Art Ditmar and so on.
So, no, Vin Mazzaro did not make any real history in the fourth inning in Kansas City, Mo., on Monday night.
But ... then he came out for the fifth inning.
Indeed he did. He got an out, then loaded the bases, gave up an RBI single and finally got yanked. But the bases were still loaded and all of those guys scored, too.
So, 14 runs ... 14 runs that led Posnanski to describe Mazzaro's outing as "the worst pitching performance ever."
I wasn't watching the game. Even if I'd been watching, I probably would have stopped watching. I'm one of those people who can't watch the replays of guys suffering compound fractures. Joe Theismann? Forget about it.
But when I saw Mazzaro's line, I thought, "Wow. That's not a line you see real often."
What I didn't know is just how rare it is.
According to STATS LLC, only two pitchers since 1947 had given up 14 runs in one game. Both -- Milwaukee's Bill Travers in 1977 and Oakland's Mike Oquist in 1998 -- were starting pitchers. The last reliever to give up 14 runs in one game was Philadelphia Athletics' right-hander Buster McCrabb in 1942.
Like Mazzaro, McCrabb went straight to the minors after his big game (his only appearance in the majors that season). That was early in the season, just the Athletics' third game. He spent the rest of the season with Montreal, in the fast International League, and pitched reasonably well. I suspect that Buster suffered some physical malady afterward, because he somehow avoided military service while pitching in the minors during the war years, during which the big-league clubs were so desperate for talent they employed one-armed outfielders and high-school pitchers.
I just wish I knew more about Buster McCrabb. He pitched in the minors through 1947, after which we lose track of him until 1950, when for some reason he pitched in two more games for the Athletics. I have hundreds and hundreds of baseball books at hand, and yet I can't find an explanation for McCrabb's short-lived return to the American League. Which only reminds me, yet again, how much I still have to learn.
We do pick up McCrabb's trail later, though. And there is some hope for Vin Mazzaro. As Posnanski points out, Bob Feller once gave up 15 runs in a game. He turned out pretty well. And then there was Lester McCrabb ...
After his rough game, in which he gave up 14 runs in four innings, he disappeared from the big leagues for eight years. He managed to show up for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1950, though. He gave up seven hits in an inning. Buster McCrabb pitched a scoreless third of an inning the next time out and retired to Quarryville, Pa., where he grew mushrooms and lived to be 94 years old. So that's not too bad, either.
So there you go. Vincent Michael Mazzaro. The Pride of Hackensack. Future nonagenarian and mushroom farmer. And you know, Major League Baseball's minimum salary ain't bad, either.