Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox who clinched their Wild Card playoff berth last night by losing their fifth consecutive game! Whee! Adding injury to insult, Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon plunked Blue Jays dreamboat Adam Lind on the elbow in the ninth inning.
Sounds pretty typical for a Papelbon appearance, right? Well considering the fact that Lind had already clobbered three home runs into the dark Boston night and was seeking to tie the big league record with number four, it was a pretty dastardly move, but Lind seemed pretty forgiving after the game:
"It was going to be fun. The crowd was back in the game," he said. "It's always fun facing Papelbon. He's one of the best in the game. I was going to go out there and try to put the head of the bat on the ball."
Wow, what a genuinely nice fella. And powerful! Lind now has 35 homers on the year and a stout .932 OPS, easily the brightest spot on a worsening Jays offense. But still, to miss a chance to etch his name in history surely will disappoint Lind over the off-season. Which led me to wonder, how often have players hit three tater tots in a game only to be plunked trying for tater #4?
Using the Baseball Reference Play Index, I found every instance of a player hitting at least 3 homers and getting at least 1 HBP in a single game since 1954:
- Dmitri Young (DET) April 4, 2005, 3 HR, 1 HBP
- Mike Cameron (SEA) May 2, 2002, 4 HR, 1 HBP
- Albert Belle (BAL) July 25, 1999, 3 HR, 1 HBP
- Cliff Johnson (NYY) June 30, 1977, 3 HR, 1 HBP
- Don Baylor (BAL) July 2, 1975, 3 HR, 1 HBP
- Bill Freehan (DET) August 9, 1971, 3 HR, 1 HBP
- Willie McCovey (SF) September 22, 1963, 3 HR, 1 HBP
In this list, Cameron, Belle, Baylor, and McCovey were hit by a pitch at a point in the game after they had hit three home runs (in Cameron's case, it was after four!). I'd have to do far more research to determine the intent of the pitchers during those plate appearances, but the fact remains: counting Adam Lind, four players since 1954 have lost their chance to hit a fourth home run because of a HBP while one lost his chance to break the all time record and hit his fifth.
In a 2005 game against the Royals, Dmitri Young was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning, between his second and third home run of the game, so that doesn't count.
Mike Cameron is the unusual case here. In that game against the White Sox, Cameron hit two homers in the Mariners' 10-run first inning, then hit his third in the third inning and his record-tying fourth in the fifth inning. Sox reliever Mike Porzio then grazed Cameron with a 1-1 pitch in the seventh inning. Cameron had one more chance in the ninth to set the all time record with five tots, but lined out.
Albert Belle hit his third home run in the Orioles game against Anaheim in the ninth inning; it tied the game and sent it to extra innings. He was hit by Shigetoshi Hasegawa in the 11th which helped set up the walkoff hit by Cal Ripken.
Cliff Johnson was hit by a pitch in his first plate appearance and actually hit his second and third homers in an 8-run eighth inning by the Yanks against the Jays.
All three of Baylor's home runs came before the fourth inning in his game against the Tigers. He then fouled out in the fifth, was hit by Bob Reynolds in the seventh, and walked in the ninth with his team up 13-5.
Bill Freehan was hit by a pitch in his first plate appearance.
Against the Mets, Willie McCovey hit three homers by the fourth inning; in his next plate appearance he was hit by a Grover Powell pitch.
So Jonathan Papelbon joins a not-so-illustrious list of pitchers that includes Mike Porzio, Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Bob Reynolds, and Grover Powell. If Papelbon really did intend to hit Lind in the ninth inning last night, he deserves our scorn. If not, then perhaps the Boston reliever should control his pitches a little better. Either way, I genuinely don't like Jonathan Papelbon and just spent an hour trying to put his failures into historical perspective.