Yesterday’s Mets-Rangers’ game was more or less a typical affair at the Ballpark in Arlington. One team scored 14 runs. One team hit three home runs. Only the same team didn’t do both: The Mets scored 14 runs without the aid of a home run, while the Rangers, who lost, launched three, leading to four of their five runs.
So I was curious: How often does a team score at least 14 runs without hitting a home run? Because it seems like it would be hard to plate that many runners with running into a pitch or two along the way.
Thanks to the magic of Baseball Reference’s Play Index, this (possibly) essential and life changing information is but a few clicks away. And as it turns out, it’s not nearly as hard as I thought. Two other teams have scored 14 runs without a home run just this season. The Red Sox did it six days ago, June 20th against the Padres, and the Athletics did it May 17th against the Angels. It happened five times last season — once when the Mets scored 14 runs on June 22nd against Justin Verlander and the Tigers — and four teams scored 14 runs without a home run in 2009. Overall, it’s happened 579 times since 1919 (which is as far back as the Play Index has information).
As you might have guessed, it is easier to score 14 runs with at least one home run mixed in: It’s happened 16 times this year, five of those times by the Red Sox. A team scoring 14 runs with a home run has happened 3,248 times since 1919, or about five times as often as a team scoring 14 runs without a home run.
If you’re wondering, the record for most runs scored in a game without hitting a home run belongs to the 1923 Cleveland Indians, who defeated the Boston Red Sox 27-3 on July 7, 1923 at Dunn Field. The Indians scored three in the first, two in the second, and three in the third, chasing Red Sox starter Curt Fullerton with the Indians ahead 7-0 after three. Boston scored two in the top of the fourth, then brought in Lefty O’Douhl, later an all star outfielder but then a relief pitcher. O’Douhl allowed one run in the fourth, two in the fifth . . . and then 13 runs in the sixth inning. The Indians tacked on three more runs over the final two innings. Boston pitchers allowed 27 runs, but thanks to three timely errors that must have come with two outs each time, only 9 were earned runs. Most impressive: The time of game was two hours and ten minutes.
Then the Indians won the second game of the doubleheader, 8-5. Old timey baseball.