ESPN’s baseball glossary defines a save opportunity as:
When a pitcher 1) enters the game with a lead of three or fewer runs and pitches at least one inning, 2) enters the game with the potential tying run on base, at bat, or on deck, or 3) pitches three or more innings with a lead and is credited with a save by the official scorer.
Now any time a pitcher enters a game with a lead of three or fewer runs, the potential tying run is at least on deck, so part 2 applies so why is part 1 in this definition?
Furthermore, why should the length of time a pitcher pitches define a save opportunity. That is, if part 2 weren’t there if a closer came in in a standard save opportunity and lost the game without pitching a full inning, he wouldn’t have a save opportunity and therefore wouldn’t have a blown save.
I’m assuming part 3 is there so that a pitcher who comes in with an 8-0 lead and pitches the last three innings winning 8-7 can not credited with a save for his lousy performance. But he really did have a save opportunity if he’d pitched better.