It’s Thanksgiving week, which means it’s time to take stock of what we’re thankful for. Every baseball fan is familiar with certain moments, outcomes and games attributed to luck -- things that feel extra worthy of gratefulness. Sometimes, it’s a ball that seems like a certain flyout off the bat carrying for a homer. Other times, it’s a pitcher earning the win on a day he wasn’t at his best.
Whether it’s thanks to strong run support, a well-placed line drive, or a lucky bounce, sometimes you end up in the win column regardless of how well you pitched. To be clear: a win is a win, and this is all in good fun. But sometimes a box score line really stands out.
With those concepts in mind, here are nine times this season a pitcher had reason to give thanks.
Merrill Kelly, ARI: April 15 at Nationals
Stats: 6 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 1 BB
Final score: ARI 11, WSH 6
Kelly’s six runs allowed were tied for the most by a pitcher in a win this season. In a game opposite former D-back Patrick Corbin, Kelly took the mound in the bottom of the first with a 3-0 lead thanks to two D-backs homers and an RBI single in the top of the inning. He proceeded to allow four runs in the bottom of the inning, but the D-backs scored seven runs in the top of the second to take the lead for good. Kelly allowed another two runs, but departed in line for the win, which he got.
JT Brubaker, PIT: April 16 at Brewers
Stats: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB
Final score: PIT 6, MIL 1
Brubaker’s line might look amiss on this list, but he also hit three batters, tied for the most by a pitcher in a win this season. He and the Pirates led, 1-0, entering the bottom of the third, when Brubaker hit Jackie Bradley Jr. and Keston Hiura in back-to-back plate appearances with two outs after a leadoff double. But he got out of it with a strikeout and allowed his lone run on a fifth-inning Tyrone Taylor double. Two batters later, he hit Hiura again. But the Pirates won, 6-1.
Dallas Keuchel, CHW: May 12 vs. Twins
Stats: 5 2/3 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 1 BB
Final score: CHW 13, MIN 8
Keuchel allowed six runs, tied for the most by a pitcher in a win in ‘21. This game featured three first-inning runs: one off Keuchel in the form of a Nelson Cruz homer, and two in support of the White Sox starter in José Abreu and Yermin Mercedes RBI hits. The White Sox took a 12-3 lead into the sixth inning, so when four runs scored in the top of that frame, three charged to Keuchel, he was still in line for the win at 12-7. The White Sox won, 13-8.
Patrick Corbin, WSH: May 23 vs. Orioles
Stats: 5 2/3 IP, 11 H, 4 R, 2 BB
Final score: WSH 6, BAL 5
Corbin allowed 11 hits, tied for the most in a win this year. And it isn’t that the Nationals pounded out double-digit runs, but they scored just enough while Corbin was still in the game. After Corbin allowed four straight singles to start the game and three runs total on five hits in the first, the Nats answered in the bottom of the inning with four runs to claim a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Corbin faced more than three batters in every inning except the second.
Nick Pivetta, BOS: July 19 at Blue Jays
Stats: 6 2/3 IP, 11 H, 4 R, 2 BB
Final score: BOS 13, TOR 4
Pivetta’s outing makes this list for two related reasons: the 11 hits he allowed were tied for the most in a win this season, and the 14 baserunners he allowed stood alone as the most. But all of that said, he allowed just four runs -- which is plenty when your offense scores 13, including eight in the first inning on three home runs. Pivetta had two innings facing just three batters and allowed five of his 11 hits in the fourth inning, when the Jays scored all four of their runs to make the score 12-4.
Framber Valdez, HOU: July 24 vs. Rangers
Stats: 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 6 BB
Final score: HOU 4, TEX 1
While a hitless outing might not initially seem like one worthy of thankfulness for a win, Valdez’s efforts here make the list because of the free passes: six, to be exact. That was tied for the most walks by a pitcher in a game where he got a win this year -- Valdez just happened to do it without allowing a hit, either. Valdez had two innings where he did not issue a walk and two innings with multiple free passes, which were the first two innings of the game. Valdez also gets an honorable mention for his June 19 outing against the White Sox, when he got the win despite three wild pitches, tied for the most by a winning pitcher this year.
José Berríos, TOR: Aug. 1 vs. Royals
Stats: 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB
Final score: TOR 5, KC 1
Berríos didn’t allow a run, yes, but he also hit three batters, tied for the most by a pitcher in a win this season. The Jays took a 2-0 lead in the third thanks to an RBI double from George Springer and a homer from Marcus Semien. In the fourth, Berríos issued his first hit-by-pitch: Michael A. Taylor. The other two came in the sixth, with the Jays up, 5-0. After a Salvador Pérez flyout and Andrew Benintendi double, Berríos hit Hunter Dozier. After a Ryan O’Hearn strikeout, he hit Taylor again, before Edward Olivares struck out to end the inning.
Alek Manoah, TOR: Sept. 21 at Rays
Stats: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 6 BB
Final score: TOR 4, TB 2
Manoah only allowed two runs, but he’s here because he walked six batters, tied for the most by a pitcher in a win this year. Manoah walked at least one batter in four of his six innings, including three in the second, when he managed to allow just a run despite those baserunners and two singles. The Blue Jays led, 3-2, when Manoah departed after the sixth.
Aaron Nola, PHI: Sept. 23 vs. Pirates
Stats: 6 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 1 BB
Final score: PHI 12, PIT 6
Nola allowed six runs, tied for the most a winning pitcher allowed in a game this season. Nola allowed five runs in the second on a Connor Overton single -- the opposing pitcher -- and Ke’Bryan Hayes homer. The Pirates extended their lead to 6-0 after a Colin Moran home run in the top of the third. But Philly struck closer in the bottom of the inning, scoring five runs off Overton and Cody Ponce, as Nola, who worked a walk in the inning, remained in. The Phillies took the lead in the bottom of the sixth on a Ronald Torreyes homer, with Nola still the pitcher of record after Torreyes pinch-hit for him there.