Rare intentional walk: man on 3rd, up by 4 runs

Intentional walks have been part of baseball almost as long as there has been baseball.

Cubs batters have been walked intentionally 4,657 times since the start of 1915, first season for which has searchable play-level data.

2,526 of those times, 54 percent, came with a runner on third base.

531 of the walks, 11 percent, came with a runner only on third.

But only 59 of them, a mere 1.3 percent, came with a runner only on third and the Cubs ahead by at least 4 runs -- as happened on Sept. 12 at New York during their 5-2 win over the Mets.


The score was 4-1 when Zach McKinstry and Seiya Suzuki began the eighth inning with singles that put runners on the corners.

On an 0-2 pitch, Franmil Reyes struck out and Suzuki was thrown out stealing, leaving McKinstry on third with 2 down.

The Mets then walked Ian Happ intentionally.

Happ stole second, but Patrick Wisdom struck out to end the inning.



Only 2 players on other teams have been sent to first base this season with just a runner on third and his team ahead by at least 4 runs.

The Mets led, 5-1, when the Reds walked Eduardo Escobar in the bottom of the eighth inning on Aug. 8.

The Astros led, 8-3, when the Angels walked Yordan Alvarez in the bottom of the sixth on Sept 11 -- the day before the Mets walked Happ.

Those 3 intentional walks amount to 0.7 percent of all 429 issued through Monday.


1936 AND 2022

The walk to Happ came on the 86th anniversary of the first such intentional walk to a Cub.

On Sept. 12, 1936, the Giants walked Phil Cavarretta in the top of the sixth inning with the Cubs in front, 5-0.

The Dodgers walked Cavarretta with the Cubs ahead, 4-0, in the eighth inning on July 19, 1937.

The next year, Gabby Hartnett and Ripper Collins both were sent to first base with a runner on third and the Cubs up by 4 runs: 8-4 over the Dodgers and 6-2 over the Cardinals.

The Cubs did not have 2 intentional walks of the kind in a season again until 1971.

They had 3 in 1983, 1984 and 1986, then 4 in 2018.



The first 2 in 2018 came in the same game, at Cincinnati on May 18.

Ben Zobrist started the game with a single off Homer Bailey. Kris Bryant doubled, then Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras and Addison Russell all delivered run-scoring singles.

In the third, the Cubs loaded the bases with nobody out on singles by Contreras and Russel, then a walk to Kyle Schwarber.

Javier Baez grounded into a double play, on which a run scored, leaving a runner on third.

Bailey walked the next batter, bringing up pitcher Jon Lester, who struck out.


The score remained 4-0 when Russell led off the fifth with a single. Schwarber doubled him home and advanced to third on a groundout.

Bailey walked the next batter again in order to face Lester. This time, Lester foiled the strategy by executing a squeeze bunt that scored Schwarber.



The "next batter" walked in those innings was none other than Happ, so Monday's walk was the 3rd of his career with a runner on third and the Cubs in front by at least 4 runs.

Billy Williams was walked 4 times under those conditions; Sammy Sosa, 3.

6 others received 2 such walks: Ernie Banks, Cavarretta, Ron Cey, Leon Durham, Alfonso Soriano and Sammy Taylor.

37 Cubs have been walked once.



Both of Cey's walks came in the same game, the only Cub other than Happ to do so.

On July 17, 1983, the Cubs held a 5-0 lead at Los Angeles when Bill Buckner led off the seventh inning with a single. He stole second and, after a strikeout, stole third.

That prompted the walk to Cey.

Keith Moreland forced out Cey. The Cubs then tallied 4 runs on a single by Jody Davis, an error and a 2-run single by pitcher Dickie Noles.

The next inning, with 1 out and the score 9-0, Durham reached third on a dropped fly ball. The Dodgers walked Cey again. Pinch hitter Thad Bosley followed with a sacrifice fly.



The 9-run lead over the Dodgers when Cey was walked the second time is the largest among the 59 that the Cubs held of at least 4 runs.

Here is how many times they led by each number of runs:

9 runs: 1

8 runs: 3

7 runs: 2

6 runs: 4

5 runs: 16

4 runs: 33



The walk on Monday to Happ was the 11th of the 59 that came in the top of the eighth inning, by far the most of any half inning.

7 came in the top of the seventh, 6 each in the bottom of the fifth and top of the sixth, and 5 apiece in the top of the fifth, bottom of the seventh and bottom of the eighth.

There have been 3 games in which the walk was issued in the top of the ninth with a runner on third and the Cubs in front by 4 or more runs.

The first 2 both were to Billy Williams, with the score 6-2: at Philadelphia in 1968 and at Pittsburgh in 1973.

The third was to Jody Davis, with the score 10-4 at Los Angeles on June 30, 1984.

In the 1968 and 1984 games, the next batter smacked RBI singles. In 1973, he popped up.



All Cubs who came to the plate after an intentional walk with a runner on third and a lead of at least 4 runs went 13 for 50, with 8 singles, 3 doubles and 2 triples.

They struck out 18 times and drove in 18 runs, 4 of them on sacrifice flies.

1 batter was hit by a pitch, 1 walked and 1 never batted, as the runner who had walked was thrown out trying to steal.


The 2 triples both were hit by pitchers: Tex Carlton, after Cavarretta was walked by the Dodgers in 1937, with the Cubs on top, 4-0; and Hank Wyse, after Bill Jurges was walked by the Giants in 1947, with the score 6-2.

Both came in the top of the eighth inning.

19 pitchers have batted since then with runners on first and third after an intentional walk and the Cubs up by at least 4 runs.

Only Jason Bere made an extra-base hit, a 2-run double in the top of the third inning against the Mets on July 5, 2001, that increased the Cubs' lead to 7-0.

All pitchers combined went 5 for 21, with 10 strikeouts. The most recent to bat under such conditions -- and likely the last ever -- was Alec Mills, on Sept. 3 of last year, at home against the Pirates.

A leadoff walk in the third inning to Matt Duffy and singles by Ian Happ and Austin Romine made the score 4-0. Alfonso Rivas grounded into a double play, leaving Happ at third.

Sergio Alcantara then was walked intentionally. He stole second before Mills struck out.


Position players are 8 for 29 after an intentional walk with a runner on third and a lead of 4 or more runs.

2 of the hits were doubles that scored 2 runs: by Hal Jeffcoat, with the Cubs ahead, 11-4, in the eighth inning at St. Louis in 1948; and by Matt Stairs, with the score 5-0 in the eighth at Cincinnati in 2001.



Of the 4,657 walks issued to the Cubs through Monday, the most came with only a runner on second: 2,078.

Next was with runners on second and third (1,825).

Here are all 7 situations and the number of intentional walks:

---: 5 (0.1 percent of total)

1--: 12 (0.3 percent)

12-: 21 (0.5 percent)

1-3: 169 (3.6 percent)

-2-: 2,078 (44.6 percent)

-23: 1,825 (39.2 percent)

--3: 531 (11.4 percent)

123: 1 (0.02 percent)

All those percentages are virtually identical to those for the same kind of walk among the 94,208 intentional walks issued by all teams.



The Cubs' 5 walks with nobody on base all came at home, with 2 outs in an inning:

Ernie Banks, on Sept. 1, 1961, by Giants, 10th, score 3-3

Banks, on Aug. 2, 1963, by Giants, 8th, score 11-11

Sammy Sosa, on July 31, 1996, by Giants, 8th, Cubs ahead 4-1

Carlos Pena, on July 19, 2011, by Phillies, 8th, score 2-2

Anthony Rizzo, on May 7, 2017, by Yankees, 16th, score 4-4

None of the 5 scored. The Cubs won the games in 1963 and 1996. They lost in 1961, 2011 and 2017.



The lone bases-loaded walk was to Bill Nicholson, in Game 2 of a doubleheader at New York on July 23, 1944. The Giants led, 10-7, in the eighth. Nicholson had hit 3 home runs during the 2 games.

There have been only 5 other intentional walks that forced in a run. The batters were Del Bissonette of the Dodgers, in 1928; Mel Ott of the Giants, in 1929; Barry Bonds of the Giants, in 1998; Josh Hamilton of the Rangers, in 2000; and Corey Seager of the Rangers, on April 15 of this year.

Seager was walked in the fourth with the Rangers ahead, 4-2.

The only one previously walked with his team leading was Ott. When he was walked by the Phillies with the score 11-3 in the ninth inning of the final Sunday of the season, Ott had 42 home runs, 1 behind Philadelphia's Chuck Klein.



Anthony Rizzo was the last Cub walked intentionally with only a runner on first -- in the same 2017 game against the Yankees in which he had been walked with nobody on in the 16th.

After New York took a 5-4 lead in the top of the 18th, the first 2 Cubs were retired. Bryant walked on 4 pitches, then Bryant was sent to first. Pitcher Kyle Hendricks batted for reliever Pedro Strop and struck out, ending the 6-hour, 5-minute battle.


Rizzo also was the most recent Cub walked intentionally with runners on first and second. It happened on June 28, 2016, at Cincinnati, in the top of the 15th.

The Cubs had just taken a 3-2 lead on an RBI single by Kris Bryant. After Rizzo was walked, pitcher Jason Hammel pinch hit for reliever Spencer Patton and grounded into a forceout at home. Javier Baez then unloaded a grand slam.

Ernie Banks and Andre Dawson both were walked intentionally twice with runners on first and second.



Ernie Banks was walked intentionally 202 times -- more than 25 percent more than runnerup Billy Williams' 160.

All Cubs with at least 50:

202: Ernie Banks

160: Billy Williams

140: Sammy Sosa

110: Gabby Hartnett

107: Bill Nicholson

100: Mark Grace

94: Leon Durham

93: Ron Santo

70: Phil Cavarretta

67: Anthony Rizzo

64: Andre Dawson

59: Don Kessinger and Ryne Sandberg

55: Adolfo Phillips

50: Stan Hack

538 different Cubs have been walked intentionally, 150 of them exactly once.



Banks' 202 intentional walks tie him with Babe Ruth for 18th most in big league history, 1 behind Tony Gwynn and 1 ahead of Mike Schmidt.

Barry Bonds is first with an incredible 688, more than double the 316 of runnerup Albert Pujols.

Four others had at least 250: Hank Aaron (293), Stan Musial (268), Willie McCovey (260) and Vladimir Guerrero (250).

Ted Williams had 246 and Ted Williams, 245. No one else had more than 238.



The Cubs' 4,657 intentional walks are the 7th most issued to any team, just 4 ahead of the Braves.

The Dodgers lead with 5,242, followed by the Giants (5,197) and Cardinals (5,038).

The 8 top teams are the 8 pre-expansion National League clubs. The Yankees, ninth overall, have 4,046, which is 607 fewer than the Braves. Use of the designated hitter, beginning in 1973, sharply reduced the number of intentional walks in the AL.

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