And now The Greatest October Feat That Nobody Noticed:
It isn’t quite true that Jeremy Affeldt got more air time this October than Joe Buck. But if you were watching the Giants play baseball last month and Affeldt didn’t show up on your screen at some point, well, you must have nodded off or something.
To say he pitched a lot is kind of like saying Taylor Swift sings a lot. Do the San Francisco Giants win the World Series without him doing what he did? I’d vote no.
Eleven consecutive scoreless appearances (heaped on top of 11 more before that over the Giants’ previous two postseasons). Appearances that ranged from one out to seven outs. With 38 batters faced -- and only five hits allowed (all singles).
So that was cool. And invaluable. But now it turns out that those of us watching and chronicling him do it still missed his coolest feat of all.
It occurred to me this week -- thanks to a post-World Series conversation with my brother-in-law (and always-energized Giants fan), Bill Bernstein -- that Affeldt did something in this postseason that you never, ever, ever see:
He pitched in the second inning. And the third inning. And the fourth inning.
He also pitched in the fifth inning. And the sixth inning. And the seventh inning.
But why stop there? So he didn’t. He pitched in the eighth inning, too. And the ninth inning. And the 10th inning.
So wait. In an age in which bullpen guys are routinely labeled as “seventh-inning guys” or “eighth-inning guys” or “long men” or “left-handed specialists,” and daring bullpen usage now consists of using the “seventh-inning guy” in the (gasp) sixth, Affeldt did what?
Right. He pitched in nine different innings -- every single inning from the second through the 10th. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is incredible.
It’s a tribute both to Affeldt and his free-thinking manager, Bruce Bochy. But more importantly, it stands alone in the history of modern bullpen usage.
Just to be sure, I asked the Elias Sports Bureau to look at whether any other relief pitcher has ever done this in any postseason. Amazingly, Elias did find one.
It was a fellow named Charley Hall. For the Red Sox, in the 1912 World Series.
But it’s also safe to say that Charley Hall’s October went a little different than Jeremy Affeldt’s October. Here’s how our man Charley logged those innings:
In Game 2, he entered in the eighth, blew a 4-3 lead, gave up another run in the 10th and only got off the hook (twice) because the Red Sox scored unearned runs off Christy Mathewson in the eighth and 10th innings. Hall faced 14 hitters in that game. Six reached base.
Then, in Game 7 (in an eight-game Series), Charley was back for some classic, or not so classic long relief. Smoky Joe Wood gave up six runs in the first. Then Hall relieved him in the second and took one for the staff, allowing nine hits, five walks and five runs over the final eight innings.
So basically, just one outing accounted for most of those Hall innings. Affeldt, on the other hand entered games during seven different innings. Seven.
Four different times, he finished one inning and stuck around for the next. And in Game 7 of the World Series, he was the seven-out bridge from Tim Hudson to Madison Bumgarner. You didn’t forget that Affeldt pitched in that game, did you? Heck, the MadBum Relief Show wouldn’t have been possible without him.
It was that final outing that led the Giants to the parade floats. But it also gave Affeldt the chance to pull off The Greatest October Feat That Nobody Noticed.
Until now, that is. When somebody finally did notice. Anyone think we’ll ever see that again? I know what I think: No way.