MLB pitcher gets first career win thanks to bizarre scoring quirk

Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Chad Smith earned the first victory of his major league career on Wednesday when the team defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 8-4.

But just getting the win in his 16th career appearance wasn’t the main part of the interesting story. He was awarded the victory thanks to an official scoring rule that is rarely applied.

Smith pitched the last two innings of the win over the Orioles. He held Baltimore scoreless and allowed just one hit after entering the game in the bottom of the eighth. Oakland scored three runs in the top of the seventh to take a 7-4 lead in the game.

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Chad Smith of the Oakland Athletics pitches in the ninth for his first career win against the Orioles at Camden Yards on April 12, 2023, in Baltimore. (Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Typically, it would mean reliever Jeurys Familia, who pitched the bottom of the seventh and was in the game when Oakland took the lead, would have gotten the win. But the official scorer of the game decided not to give Familia the victory because it was considered that he had a short and ineffective outing.

Familia entered the game with one out in the seventh, a man on first, and Oakland already up 4-2. Strikes from Cedric Mullins and Adley Rutschmann would help tie the game. But Familia would eventually get out of the driveway.

But the scorer can make a decision as to who is credited with the win.

Rule 9.17(c) states: «The official scorer shall not credit a relief pitcher who is ineffective in a brief appearance as the winning pitcher, when at least one subsequent relief pitcher pitches effectively to help his team maintain its lead. In such case, the official scorer shall credit as the winning pitcher the successor reliever who was more effective, in the judgment of the official scorer.»

Oakland Athletics catcher Carlos Perez and reliever Chad Smith celebrate their team's victory over the Orioles on Wednesday, April 12, 2023, in Baltimore.

Oakland Athletics catcher Carlos Perez and reliever Chad Smith celebrate their team’s victory over the Orioles on Wednesday, April 12, 2023, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Jess Rapfogel)

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Additionally, the rule book states: «The official scorer generally must, but is not required to, consider a relief pitcher’s appearance to be ineffective and brief if said relief pitcher pitches less than one inning and allows two or more to score.» more earned runs (even if such runs are charged to a previous pitcher).»

Of the two runs allowed during the Familia appearance, one was charged and the other was charged to Oakland starter Ken Waldichuk.

Smith was called up from Triple-A Las Vegas and left for Oakland around 2:45 a.m. PT. He told reporters that he was told that he had earned the save in the game.

«They told me it was a save,» he said. «I guess now that you say it’s a win, I guess it’s a win. It’s great. That’s why we played the game.»

Smith was selected in the 11th round of the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft by the Miami Marlins. The Marlins traded him to the Colorado Rockies in 2020 and he made his major league debut last season with the Rockies.

Relief pitcher Chad Smith is congratulated by catcher Carlos Perez at the end of the Oakland Athletics' victory over the Orioles on April 12, 2023 in Baltimore.

Relief pitcher Chad Smith is congratulated by catcher Carlos Perez at the end of the Oakland Athletics’ victory over the Orioles on April 12, 2023 in Baltimore. (Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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In December, the A’s acquired him in a trade from the Rockies.

Associated Press contributed to this report.