August 30, 1988. The 76-54 Dodgers played a game against the 66-64 Expos in front of 21,454 fans in Montreal. In the 5th inning of that game, Tim Raines and Dave Martinez had back-to-back hits to score two runs and cut L.A.'s lead in half. That's all the scoring the Expos could muster, however, and the Dodgers won 4-2. The winning pitcher was 29-year-old Orel Hershiser.
The four scoreless innings Hershiser threw after the 5th were the start of his 59 inning stretch without giving up a run. Including the start against the Expos, the scoreless streak spanned seven starts. Hershiser's numbers in September of 1988 are hard to believe.
- 6 starts
- 55 IP
- 34 SO, 9 BB
- 0.71 WHIP
- 0.00 ERA
For me, the hardest number to understand is the 34 strikeouts. Hershiser was not a strikeout pitcher (career 5.8 K/9), but I expected more during this stretch. Without swing-and-miss stuff, he simply induced weak contact—and got lucky. In fact, hitters were 0-for-31 with runners in scoring position over the 59 innings.
The previous record was held by another Dodgers starter, Don Drysdale, who went 58.2 IP without allowing a run in 1968. For some reason, the record only includes regular season starts. In the 1988 playoffs—the last time the Dodgers made the World Series—Hershiser pitched well, but gave up seven runs in 42 innings. His first start in 1989 had the capability to continue the streak, then. In the first inning of his start, though, Hershiser gave up a two-out single to Todd Benzinger, driving in Reds shortstop Barry Larkin. The pitcher that has come close to challenging the streak since then is another Dodgers starter, Zack Greinke in 2015 (45.2 IP).
So, on today's anniversary of the start of Orel's scoreless streak, let's consider the most impressive streaks in baseball. Here are my ten, in order of their impressiveness. To clarify, I'm thinking of individual streaks that span games, not seasons. Hank Aaron's stretch of 20 straight seasons with 20 homers, for instance, would not be included (but how awesome is that?).
Baseball's Most Impressive Streaks
10. Consecutive strikes thrown: 38. Bartolo Colon, 2012.
9. Consecutive saves converted: 84. Eric Gagne, 2002-2004.
8. Consecutive games with 10 or more strikeouts: 8. Pedro Martinez (1999), Chris Sale (2015, 2017).
7. Consecutive games with a home run: 8. Dale Long (1956), Don Mattingly (1987), Ken Griffey, Jr. (1993).
6. Consecutive scoreless innings: 59. Orel Hershiser, 1988.
5. Consecutive games reaching base: 84. Ted Williams, 1949.
4. Consecutive no-hitters: 2. Johnny Vander Meer, 1938.
3. Consecutive stolen base attempts without getting caught: 50. Vince Coleman, 1988-89.
2. Consecutive games played (and started): 2,632. Cal Ripken, 1982-1998.
1. Consecutive games with a hit: 56. Joe DiMaggio, 1941.