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How a Pitcher Can Earn a Win with Less than 5 Innings Pitched

This article was orginally posted at our Baseball Practice Tips site.

CC Sabathia Indians

Starting pitcher CC Sabathia earned a win in 2001 in 4 IP.

At an early age, we learned that pitchers need to finish 5 innings to qualify for a win. We’ve watched games where the starting pitcher is struggling to hold a big lead through 4 2/3 and the manager keeps him out there just a little longer to get that last out and qualify for the win.

The part of the rule that we all know is found in:

Rule 10.19 (a) Credit the starting pitcher witha game won only if he has pitched at least five complete innings and his team not only is in the lead whenhe is replace but remains in the lead the remainder of the game.

But the part of the rule that we all don’t know is the following:

Rule 10.19 (b) The “must pitch five complete innings” rule in respect to the starting pitcher shall be in effect fro all games of six or more innings. In a five inning game, credit the starting pitcher with a game won only if he has pitched at least foud complete innings and his team not only is in the lead when he is replaced but remains in the lead the remainder of the game.

In 1999, on the final day of the season Larry Luebbers was credited with a win while pitching only 4 innings in a 9-5 win for the Cardinals over the Cubs. Rick Ankiel pitched the fifth inning for the Redbirds and picked up the save.

On June 1, 2001, Cleveland Indians’ rookie pitcher C.C. Sabathia pitched 4 innings and won a game ironically versus the Yankees in a game that was called after 5 1/2 due to rain. See the proof with CC Sabathia’s 2001 game log here.

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