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In the Big Inning

Arizona’s 14-run explosion in the third inning of its first game was not the biggest in baseball history.

In 1952, the Brooklyn Dodgers plated 15 runs in the first inning of a game against Cincinnati at Ebbets Field. And a year later, the Boston Red Sox buried the Detroit Tigers with a 17-run frame that remains the record for a single inning.

Oddly, neither of those were among the 20 times teams plated at least 25 runs in a game since the advent of the American League in 1901.

On August 22, 2007, the Texas Rangers scored 30 runs in a game (30!) against the Baltimore Orioles. Then the Atlanta Braves mauled the Miami Marlins for 29 – a National League record – during the pandemic-shortened season of 2020.

Only the Rangers and Red Sox (29 in 1950) have scored that many runs in a game in the modern history of Major League Baseball.

Not surprisingly, the Red Sox have been involved in four of the high-scoring games. It helps to play in a bandbox ballpark shoe-horned into a section of town with not an inch of real estate left to spare.

Fenway Park’s Green Monster is exactly that – green, as in dollars earned by the Red Sox sluggers who can practically reach out and touch it, and monster, as viewed by the pitchers whose earned run averages routinely take a beating whenever they pitch there.

Just last year, the Braves tied the 2019 record of the Minnesota Twins with 307 home runs. Atlanta had three 40-homer men for the second time, with Matt Olson, Ronald Acuna, Jr., and Marcell Ozuna all reaching that plateau, and two other sluggers in Austin Riley and Ozzie Albies. Now Jarred Kelenic has joined them with Michael Harris II threatening to crash the party as well.

The New York Yankees, dubbed Murderers Row during the heyday of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, only scored 25 runs in a game once – in a 1936 slugfest against Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics. But they never threatened the record for runs in an inning.

Neither did the Queens-based Mets, usually known more for pitching than hitting, who lost to Washington, 25-4, on July 31, 2018 and to Philadelphia by a 26-7 margin on June 11, 1985.

Oddly, the Colorado Rockies cannot be found anywhere on the lists for runs in a game or runs in an inning. They play in Coors Field, where the ball flies despite the best efforts of the humidor to replicate atmospheric conditions at sea level rather than a mile high.

Other active ballparks where the ball flies include Fenway, the oldest ballpark in the majors, and Chicago’s Wrigley Field, where the winds of Lake Michigan can be a pitcher’s friend one day or an enemy the next. Consider the fact that the Cubs hosted a 26-23 game in 1922 and a 23-22 game against the same opponent, the Philadelphia Phillies, years later.

The 49 runs scored on August 25, 1922 remain the most ever produced in a single game. Chicago held a 25-6 lead after four innings but had to hold on for the win.

In 1976, the Cubs led the Phils, 13-2, but Philadelphia came back to win, 18-16, in 10 innings.

None of them were record-setting innings, however.

Ebbets Field is long gone but the memories remain. After that 15-run first inning in 1952, the Dodgers scored only four more times. But that was more than enough to cement a 19-1 win.

When the Red Sox had their 17-run seventh inning in 1953, the final score was 23-3.

This year, Arizona’s outburst came on like a desert monsoon. Yes, the game was at Chase Field in Phoenix, not the notorious downtown Denver bandbox.

The D’backs, a wild-card winner that somehow reached the World Series last fall, needed only 34 minutes to set club records for runs in an inning, hits in an inning, and plate appearances in an inning.

Starting pitcher Zac Gallen actually went to the batting cage behind the home plate dugout to keep loose by playing catch. And he did it twice!

“I’ve never seen each guy get two at-bats in an inning,” he said. “Maybe in Little League?”

Arizona sent 18 men to bat against three Colorado pitchers.

Such explosions seem more likely to occur in Fenway, Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park, or Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark – not to mention Yankee Stadium with its short distance to right field.

As Joaquin Andujar once said when asked to describe baseball in a single word, “Youneverknow.”

Dan Schlossberg, Senior Writer
Dan Schlossberg, Senior Writerhttps://mlbreport.com/
Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ is a national baseball writer for forbes.com; weekend editor of the Here’s The Pitch newsletter; columnist for Sports Collectors Digest; and contributor to USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Memories & Dreams, and many other outlets. He’s also the author of more than 40 books. His email is ballauthor@gmail.com.


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