Games of Note: It's not actually a "game" of note that occurred on August 27 of 1912, but it is a monumental kind of moment. A moment of note, if you will. The Baseball Reference Bullpen has the info:
In response to demands for an alternative way to rate pitchers besides wins and losses, the National League will officially keep ERA's for the first time; the Giants' Jeff Tesreau will lead the league at 1.96.
Going back to 1901 -- as far back as the Play Index takes us -- the lowest qualifying ERA in recorded baseball history to that point was Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown's 1906, when he posted a 1.04 mark, while Walter Johnson had the lowest career ERA of anyone, minimum 1,000 innings pitched, at 1.69.
Tesreau's 1.96 showing was only the 100th-best ERA to that point. There were a whole lot of unearned runs by pitchers back then, thanks to sloppier defense than in the more modern games, so while Brown's 1.04 ERA is excellent, it also is buffered by just 32 of the 56 runs he allowed that year counting against his ERA. Let's not exaggerate, though: if all 56 runs had been earned runs, his ERA would have been 1.82.
The American League would begin to record ERA officially starting in 1913. Unsurprisingly, Walter Johnson would lead the AL, at 1.13.
Transactions: The Red Sox released Brad Penny on this day in 2009, after Penny posted a 5.61 ERA (and 81 ERA+) in 131 innings and 24 starts with Boston. Penny had been signed as a free agent that off-season, at just $5 million, with a contract that included incentives for innings pitched or games finished. Penny didn't reach the lowest threshold for either before he was cut.
It wasn't a bad idea to attempt this, though. Penny had been effective for years, with a 115 ERA+ from 2003 through 2007, but his 2008 was poor and interrupted by injury. Boston had the open slot in their rotation to take a chance on Penny, and it didn't work out, in part because of Penny, and in part because the defense behind him was one of the worst in recent Red Sox history, coming in near the bottom of the league in Defensive Efficiency.
It didn't ruin either side of the deal in the long run, though. Boston still made the playoffs in spite of Penny's poor campaign, and Penny signed on with the Giants days later, where he would salvage his season back in the NL, in a friendlier division, in a more pitcher-oriented environment. Penny has been injured and ineffective in 2012, while once again back with the Giants after stops in St. Louis and Detroit.
Birthdays: Former Red Sox pitcher and current Texas Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux turns 51 today. Maddux pitched mostly in relief for the 1995 and 1996 Red Sox, though he also started 11 games in that two-year stretch. He struck out well over twice as many batters as he walked, and earned a 125 ERA+ in the process.
Maddux didn't have the career of his brother, Greg, but you can name on one hand the pitchers who have. Mike did plenty well for himself, pitching in the majors for 15 years that spanned three decades, logging 861 innings in 472 games, and finishing with an above-average ERA+.