The Los Angeles Dodgers had only a 4.1 percent chance of winning Tuesday night's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks when Chris Taylor stepped into the batter's box with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to face Greg Holland.
Taylor's club was behind 4-3 and the bases were empty. The prospects of victory at that moment look even bleaker in chart form.
Barring a calamity, the Diamondbacks were going to win.
A calamity ensued.
After quickly retiring Edwin Rios and Austin Barnes to open the ninth, Holland - a veteran closer who carried a sterling 2.33 ERA and 1.00 WHIP into Tuesday's appearance - had Taylor on the ropes, too, getting ahead 0-2 with successive sliders that were fouled off. Then, Holland simply forgot how to throw strikes.
His next four pitches to Taylor badly missed the zone, putting the tying run at first base. Holland walked Russell Martin too, bouncing a 3-2 slider to end a seven-pitch plate appearance. The next hitter, Alex Verdugo, saw one strike - in a 3-0 count - before trotting down the line.
With the bases now loaded, Holland allowed a free pass to little-known rookie Matt Beaty on four pitches. Tie game.
By that point, Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo had seen enough. With National League MVP front-runner Cody Bellinger up next, Lovullo summoned left-hander T.J. McFarland from the bullpen.
It didn't work. McFarland got Bellinger into a 1-2 hole but walked him too - nearly hitting him with his final two offerings - to plate the winning run. It saddled the Diamondbacks with one of the most gut-wrenching, disastrous losses of the season.
The defeat, in fact, was downright historic. It marked the first time in the live-ball era that a game ended on five consecutive walks with no outs occurring between those walks, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"That's unacceptable," Holland told reporters, including MLB.com's Steve Gilbert, following the game. "I don't know. I don't know what happened. I felt pretty good out there and then just completely lost command of the strike zone altogether. It's just not acceptable."
Not surprisingly, Holland's performance ranks among the season's worst for a relief pitcher. By win probability added, Holland's outing was the 10th-most costly of any reliever. The three-time All-Star is also one of just 10 pitchers this year to issue four or more walks in an outing without completing a full inning. (And, it should be noted, one of the "pitchers" in that group is the Astros' Tyler White, a position player called upon to mop up a blowout.)
Worst single-game WPA by relievers in 2019
|Roberto Osuna||June 19||-.780||0.2||2||3||0|
|Drew Smyly||May 29||-.682||5.0||7||8||3|
|Joakim Soria||May 13||-.654||1.2||2||2||1|
|Wander Suero||May 23||-.631||1.0||3||2||1|
|Alex McRae||June 10||-.496||4.1||8||6||3|
|Wander Suero||May 21||-.492||1.1||3||2||1|
|Felix Pena||June 5||-.485||1.2||7||8||2|
|Ryan Pressly||June 22||-.481||1.0||3||3||0|
|Francisco Liriano||June 23||-.456||1.0||3||3||2|
|Greg Holland||July 2||-.454||0.2||2||0||4|
It behooves all involved, of course, to take a pragmatic view in the wake of such a stunning collapse. One loss - no matter how gutting - is just one loss. That's how pitchers get on with their lives and throw strikes the next time. For Lovullo, though, it's been a challenge in the wake of Tuesday's implosion.
"I don't think I've really been a part of a game like that," he said. "It stings. It definitely stings."
Moreover, with the Diamondbacks in competitive limbo as the July 31 trade deadline nears - they're 43-44, yet just 2 1/2 games back of the second NL wild-card spot - each contest over the next four weeks will have heightened significance.
For a team in Arizona's position, improbable victories and dispiriting losses can have an outsized impact. And you'd be hard-pressed to conjure a loss more dispiriting than the one the Diamondbacks suffered Tuesday night.
Jonah Birenbaum is theScore's senior MLB writer. He steams a good ham. You can find him on Twitter @birenball.