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Anatomy Of A Blown Save

Tuesday night, the Mariners handed a 6-5 lead to Brandon League in the bottom of the 13th inning. League subsequently faced six batters and allowed hits to four of them, surrendering two runs and ending up with his second loss in his last two appearances. "You gotta be able to count on your closer," somebody probably said, "and League blew it."

League did blow it, in that he ended up with the blown save. And he was the guy on the mound when the Mariners suffered a devastating loss. But I think it's worth going through his inning batter by batter to examine just how poorly he really did.

Join me!

Nick Markakis

Facing Markakis to lead off, League worked the edges and got ahead 1-2 before throwing this pitch:


League threw a low split out of the zone, just as we always want him to, but Markakis is a good hitter who stayed with it, and he was able to reach out and pull a single to right field off the end of the bat.

Derrek Lee

League struck out Lee swinging on four pitches, the last one being a split low and in the zone.

Jake Fox

With a man on and a man out, League started off with this pitch:


It was a 97mph first-pitch fastball on the inner black, and Fox broke his bat making contact. The contact was just sufficient to roll a groundball through the hole and into left field.

Felix Pie

With two on and one out, League fell behind Pie 2-1, but then threw a 96mph tailing fastball over the outer edge of the zone. Pie rolled over on it, and this was the result:


Pie hit a groundball to second that easily could've gone for a game-ending double play, but Jack Wilson took the wrong approach and had the ball hop under his glove and roll into center for a run-scoring single.

Adam Jones

As he did with Jake Fox, League gave Jones a hard fastball on the inner black under the hands to start off. Jones made contact with the ball, and this was the result:


The ball was hit right to Brendan Ryan at short, and the opportunity was there for Ryan to begin a 6-4-3 double play to send the game to the 14th, but for whatever reason Ryan couldn't field the ball cleanly, so he had to throw home instead. He got the runner, but instead of getting two outs, he only got one.

Matt Wieters

And finally, the game-winner, and perhaps League's worst at bat of the inning. It was a very brief at bat, but League threw a first-pitch 97mph fastball right at the top of the zone. Still, this was the result (the ball is at the top of the picture):


Wieters hit the ball, but he didn't hit the ball on a line, and it instead sailed over Ryan and into center field for something in between a line drive and a blooper. I believe we call that a "Figgins". It's worth considering that, while League presumably didn't mean to put that pitch where he did, Wieters probably didn't smash it because it was moving so much.


So there we go. Six batters, four hits, and a blown save. Yet, of those hits, only one was the result of a bad process or pitch on League's part, while two were simple grounders and one was a flare off the end of the bat. Additionally, League generated a pair of potential double play balls that the middle infield couldn't turn.

Brandon League wound up with the blown save last night, but all it really goes to show is that even good relievers can get tagged with bad results from time to time, just based on bad luck alone. No, it wasn't the best that League's ever looked, but he pitched well, and he didn't deserve the outcome that he got.

You're free to have as little confidence in Brandon League as you want. Confidence is a subjective, individual thing. Just don't let League's appearance on Tuesday reduce your confidence any lower than it was before. The game was bad, but League was not.