We've discussed the MLB's flirtation with incredibly stupid rules changes at length both here and here. The first, which would allow teams trailing in the ninth to bat whoever they want, was thankfully just a rumor. The second, which allowed teams to place a runner on second base if the game went to extra innings, actually went into effect in the minors, and it reared its ugly head on Monday night in Tampa, Fla.
In a scheduled seven-inning game between the Clearwater Threshers and the Tampa Tarpons, the Threshers made history by winning in extra innings without getting a hit or even working a walk. How you ask? With the help of the aforementioned dumb new rule change that should never, EVER be allowed to see an MLB field. Tarpons pitcher Deivi Garcia threw seven perfect innings, striking out 12 batters in the process. What reward did he get for his work? A runner placed on second base for free in the top of the eighth. Neat!
The Threshers took advantage, as outfielder Kevin Markham reached first base on an error, placing runners on the corners for Clearwater. A slow ground ball to short from catcher Edgar Cabral loaded the bases, forcing Tampa's infield in. Second baseman Daniel Brito proceeded to ground one to first in the next at-bat and Luke Williams, who started the inning on second base, was able to beat the throw on a slide at home plate, serving as the game's winning run for Clearwater and producing this wild box score:
According to the game story on MiLB.com, this marks the first time in nearly 26 years that a team who was held hitless won a game in the Florida State League. The last time it happened was August 23, 1992, and it was these same Clearwater Threshers (they were the Clearwater Phillies then), scoring a run on a pair of walks and sacrifice bunts to beat the Winter Haven Red Sox. You can't make it up.
In the MLB, this has happened only five times since 1900 (!), though not in this ridiculous fashion thanks to the minor league rule. It most recently happened in 2008, when the L.A. Dodgers defeated the Los Angeles Angels 1-0 without a hit, scoring the games only run, one thta was unearned in the fifth inning.