Back-to-back shutouts – a vanishing breed

Jered Weaver’s no-hitter last week was actually part of an occurrence even rarer (at least, recently) than the no-hitter itself. What was this occurrence? The answer is a shutout streak – a team recording consecutive complete games with no runs allowed.

After the jump, I’ll take a closer look at this vanishing phenomenon.

This past week, the LA Angels became the first team in almost 36 years to have a 4-game stretch of recording back-to-back shutouts and being shutout back-to-back. Including Weaver’s no-hitter, the Angels blanked the Twins for two, and then got a taste of their own medicine in a pair against Toronto. These are the games.

Rk   Strk Start End Games W L CG SHO IP H BB SO HBP WP BK Opp
18 TOR 2012-05-03 2012-05-04 2 2 0 2 2 18.0 9 1 11 0 0 0 LAA
19 LAA 2012-05-01 2012-05-02 2 2 0 2 2 18.0 3 2 15 0 0 0 MIN
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/6/2012.

The last team to have such a 4-game stretch was the 1976 St. Louis Cardinals who were shut out by the Mets and then blanked the Expos, in these games.

Rk   Strk Start End Games W L CG SHO IP H BB SO HBP WP BK Opp
52 STL 1976-07-02 1976-07-03 2 2 0 2 2 18.0 12 6 15 0 0 0 MON
53 NYM 1976-06-29 1976-07-01 2 2 0 2 2 18.0 8 5 14 0 2 0 STL
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/6/2012.

Here are the other times since 1969 that a team has been involved in two different shutout streaks in the same week.

  Team Start End Games Opponent
Mets NYM 1969-09-17 1969-09-18 2 MON
PIT 1969-09-19 1969-09-20 2 NYM
           
Cubs PIT 1971-05-30 1971-06-01 3 CHC,STL
CHC 1971-06-03 1971-06-04 2 CIN,ATL
           
Royals CHW 1971-07-03 1971-07-04 2 KCR
KCR 1971-07-05 1971-07-06 2 CHW,MIL
           
Brewers MIL 1978-09-04 1978-09-06 2 SEA,TOR
MIL 1978-09-08 1978-09-09 2 MIN
           
Angels MIL 1992-09-23 1992-09-24 2 CAL
KCR 1992-09-29 1992-09-30 2 CAL
           
Red Sox BOS 1993-04-18 1993-04-19 2 CHW
SEA 1993-04-21 1993-04-22 2 BOS
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/6/2012.

Of course, with complete games disappearing from most pitchers’ stat lines, complete game shutouts have become pretty rare, never mind shutout streaks. Here’s a chart, showing number of shutout streaks by year. Note that streaks of more than 2 games are counted as a single streak. Also, “team shutouts” are excluded – a shutout is defined as a complete game with no runs allowed.

 

With the two streaks last week, the total number of multi-game shutout streaks since 2000 stands at eleven. In comparison, from 1969 (the year of the major rule changes) to 1976, there were at least 12 multi-game shutout streaks every year. For the twenty-one seasons from 1969 to 1989, there were at least 6 such streaks in all but three years, something that has happened only once (1992) since then. The first year since 1969 with no streaks was 1991, whereas that has happened in 5 of the past 8 seasons. There has not been a season with more than 2 streaks since 1998, a trend which could change this year.

Of the 275 shutout streaks since 1969, only these ones are longer than 2 games.

Rk   Strk Start End Games W L CG SHO IP H BB SO HBP WP BK Opp
1 BAL 1974-09-02 1974-09-06 5 5 0 5 5 45.0 16 6 24 0 0 0 BOS,CLE
2 PHI 1969-08-13 1969-08-16 4 4 0 4 4 36.0 20 10 18 2 1 0 ATL,HOU
3 MIN 2004-07-05 2004-07-07 3 3 0 3 3 27.0 13 2 24 3 0 0 KCR
4 BAL 1995-09-26 1995-09-29 3 3 0 3 3 27.0 13 2 17 0 0 0 TOR,DET
5 NYM 1988-04-12 1988-04-15 3 3 0 3 3 24.0 9 4 16 0 0 0 MON,STL
6 LAD 1983-05-22 1983-05-24 3 3 0 3 3 27.0 10 10 24 0 0 0 NYM,PHI
7 MON 1979-05-29 1979-05-31 3 3 0 3 3 27.0 18 4 17 0 0 0 PHI
8 CAL 1976-10-03 1977-04-07 3 3 0 3 3 27.0 14 13 29 0 0 0 OAK,SEA
9 PIT 1976-10-02 1976-10-03 3 3 0 3 3 27.0 17 4 13 0 0 0 STL
10 CAL 1974-09-28 1974-10-01 3 3 0 3 3 27.0 11 12 31 1 0 0 MIN,OAK
11 OAK 1972-07-31 1972-08-02 3 3 0 3 3 27.0 10 1 14 0 0 0 TEX,KCR
12 CHC 1971-08-03 1971-08-05 3 3 0 3 3 27.0 14 6 16 1 0 0 HOU,SDP
13 PIT 1971-05-30 1971-06-01 3 3 0 3 3 27.0 11 7 15 0 0 0 CHC,STL
14 NYM 1970-05-13 1970-05-16 3 3 0 3 3 27.0 6 8 32 1 0 0 CHC,PHI
15 NYM 1969-09-24 1969-09-27 3 3 0 3 3 27.0 11 6 16 0 0 0 STL,PHI
16 CHC 1969-05-11 1969-05-13 3 3 0 3 3 27.0 17 9 30 0 0 0 SFG,SDP
17 BAL 1969-04-12 1969-04-13 3 3 0 3 3 27.0 11 4 19 0 0 0 WSA
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/7/2012.

Here is a table showing multi-game shutout streak data by team, since 1969.

  Shut Out Opponent Streak   Shut Out By Same Opponent Streak
Team Most Recent Streaks Longest Most Recent Streaks Longest
Angels 2012-05-02 11 2 2012-05-04 11 2
Astros 1997-07-11 17 3 1992-04-29 5 2
Athletics 2000-09-10 12 3 1993-06-16 4 2
Blue Jays 2012-05-04 5 2 1983-08-06 4 2
Braves 1998-08-07 6 3 1989-09-16 15 2
Cardinals 1996-06-03 13 2 1992-07-01 6 3
Cubs 2001-05-25 8 3 1997-06-07 5 2
Diamondbacks Never 0 1 Never 0 1
Dodgers 1995-05-25 25 3 2002-05-15 5 2
Expos/Nationals 1997-06-07 9 3 2008-08-09 9 2
Giants 2002-08-20 9 2 1992-06-24 5 2
Indians 1981-04-18 6 2 1985-07-19 5 2
Mariners 1993-04-22 2 2 2003-09-04 4 2
Marlins 1997-04-11 2 2 Never 0 1
Mets 2010-08-13 18 3 1995-05-25 9 2
Orioles 1995-09-29 17 5 1983-05-22 4 2
Padres 1998-08-16 10 2 1988-08-30 7 2
Phillies 1986-09-15 5 4 1989-08-09 7 3
Pilots/Brewers 2008-08-09 15 2 1998-08-16 10 2
Pirates 1992-07-01 13 3 2010-05-12 8 2
Rays 2003-09-04 1 2 2000-09-10 1 2
Red Sox 1993-04-19 17 2 1993-04-22 4 3
Reds 2010-05-12 4 2 1986-04-27 7 2
Rockies Never 0 1 Never 0 1
Royals 1992-09-30 6 2 2004-07-07 8 3
Senators/Rangers 1996-08-12 10 2 1992-07-18 5 3
Tigers 1996-06-22 6 2 1976-05-25 3 2
Twins 2004-07-07 7 3 2012-05-02 8 2
White Sox 1994-07-02 13 2 1993-04-19 7 2
Yankees 1978-07-20 8 2 1984-05-20 6 2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/6/2012.

So, the Yankees have gone the longest without having a shutout streak, and the Tigers the longest without being shutout by the same opponent in consecutive games. The Yankees and Indians have both done neither since the mid-1980s, and the Angels have now done both in the past week. 

Finally, for you Red Sox fans, here are the teams since 1969 to shut out their opponent in both ends of a double-header.

Team Start End Games Opponent
LAD 1971-09-19 1971-09-19 2 ATL
NYY 1972-07-21 1972-07-21 2 CAL
OAK 1974-09-09 1974-09-09 2 KCR
STL 1975-06-23 1975-06-23 2 NYM
BOS 1975-07-27 1975-07-27 2 NYY
BOS 1975-09-26 1975-09-26 2 CLE
BOS 1977-09-05 1977-09-05 2 TOR

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/6/2012.

 


Comments

Back-to-back shutouts – a vanishing breed — 25 Comments

  1. “With the decline of the complete game, shutouts have become pretty rare”

    Now that is an interesting comment, Doug. The perceived wisdom is that a bullpen specialists (setup/closer) will out-pitch a starter once they go 7+.

    Yet, if that were so, then the rate of shutouts should be going up, not down. I suspect that it is a usage-pattern thing. If a starter has allowed 0 runs through 7 then, as a manager, why would I lift him? Chances are that no-one in the BP can actually do any better, and potentially, they could do much worse. If the starter starts to get in trouble, then I lift him. Much like the Mets pulled Dickey the other night.

    Not sure why a combined-SO is going down though. Maybe we are still seeing the tail of the PED-fueled high-offense era and we can expect the number of SOs to increase as the batting goes back to some kind of historic norm. Maybe.

    • Mark, I agree with you that there are two distinct causes for the decline in consecutive pitched shutouts. One is the decade-long decoline in offense and the other is the decreasing of the complete game

      As more and more money is at stake in the starters arm, fewer managers are willing to bump the pitch count up to let the pitcher finish what he started even in a shutout.

      The interesting follow-up study to this one would be to post a 1969-2012 bar graph for all consecutive shutous, not just complete-game ones.

      However, way to go Doug, with sn interesting blog.

      I’m curious about difference in the number of consecutive, complete-game shoutout streaks in the National League compared to the American since the DH was instituted.

      Does the fact that the pitcher is more likely to be pulled for a pinch hitter in the NL offset the likelihood of a complete-game shutout caused by not facing a DH at the plate?

      And what was up with the 1974 Orioles? A WHIP of 0.49 in thst stretch

      • You can get an idea, Neil by organzing the team data table by league. The table includes the count of shutout streaks and shutout streaks against.

      • Those 5 consecutive shutouts by the ’74 O’s — 3 of them 1-0 games — were part of a 28-6 finish that carried them from below .500 to another division title.

        • Wow!…the ’74 Orioles comeback makes two appearances here in one week. Later down the stretch, relief pitcher Grant Jackson recorded Ws in three consecutive games. How rare is that?

          • Alas, JDV, I have no way to test that.

            P.S. Didn’t Jackson also win 4 out of 5 Oriole games in that stretch?

          • These pitchers have all won in 5 consecutive relief appearances.
            – Mitch Williams (1991)
            – Jeff Brantley (1989)
            – Turk Lown (1956)
            – Hal McKain (1930-31)
            – Eddie Rommell (1922*)

            * had starts between relief appearances

          • Doug @14 — Those are great finds, but the criterion we’re after is winning consecutive team games.

            Mitch Williams did win 3 straight Phillies games within that 1991 streak, and Rommel won 2 straight team games at least 3 times in ’22. None of those other streaks had any consecutive team games.

          • Other pitchers to win in relief in 3 consecutive team games.

            Billy Koch, OAK, Sep 1-4, 2002
            John Frascatore, TOR, Jun 29-Jul 1, 1999
            Chuck McElroy, CAL, Jun 10-12, 1996
            Jay Howell, OAK, Jun 9-11, 1985
            Kent Tekulve, PIT, May 6-9, 1980
            Sparky Lyle, NYY, Aug 29-31, 1977
            Gene Garber, PHI, May 15-17, 1975
            Grant Jackson, BAL, Sep 29-Oct 1, 1974
            Mike Marshall, LAD, Jun 21-23, 1974
            Hal White, DET, Sep 26-28, 1950
            Joe Page, NYY, Aug 27-30, 1947

            List may be incomplete. I only checked 4 game streaks within 6 days, and 3 game streaks within 4 days. Also, did not check any “wrap-around” streaks” from one season to the next.

    • This does bring up an interesting question however- even though I suspect that shutouts of both types were probably down during the offensive era we went thru recently, what is the overall trend since relief pitchers have come so much more into play? I know that complete games have been trending down for almost the past 100 years but the trend really seemed to accelerate starting in the 1980’s. Have shutouts been more or less common when offensive context is factored in during that time frame?

  2. Speaking of great pitchers, Zambrano is back! He has all his pitches working esp. his slider. The slider is snapping off like a firecracker.

  3. In a similar vein, the Twins were victims of 3 complete game shutouts in a 4 game stretch. First Jerome Williams tossed a 3 hitter. Then there was Weaver’s no hitter. After winning a game 3-2, they were one hit by Felix Hernandez.

    I wonder how often a team gets shutout 3 times in a 4 game stretch? And how often they’re victims of a no hitter and a one hitter in such a short stretch?

    • There have been 11 occasions of a team being shutout for 4 consecutive games. It happened to the Cubs from June 16 to 20 in 1968.

    • Ed, The White Sox were no-hit by the Browns on consecutive days, May 5-6, 1917 (there was a third game between the two no-hitters).

      In the game-searchable era, there are 3 instances of a team having 1 hit or less in consecutive games.
      – NYM, Sep 9-10 1965, against MLN, both 1-hit games
      – DET, May 3-4 1996, against TEX, both 1-hit games
      – HOU, Sep 14-15 2008, against CHC, a no-hitter and a 1-hitter

      The California Angels were held to 2, 2 and 1 hits in a 3-game stretch against Cleveland on June 7-8, 1969. The Angels won the 1-hiter on the strength of 10 walks.

      • Doug:
        If hindsight is 20-20, is it possible that the CWS, the World Champion CWS of 1917, perhaps were doing some mid-season game throwing? I’m sure Comiskey wasn’t paying them any more in 1917 than he was in 1919. Obviously, they were to prove themselves an audience for offers of such a surreptitious nature a mere two years later…and, obviously, they were the superior of most opponents on any given day….

        Kind of like Albert Belle’s anger…you know, if you’re making $13,000,000 / year, do you have to slug Vina in the baseline or throw baseballs at children or….are you taking nutritional supplements of a suspicious nature?

        • Pretty speculative, Paul. Especially for first week of May!

          On the other hand, America was still a month away from going to war, so Comiskey didn’t have the “wartime economy drive” card to play. So, who knows?

          More likely, Sox just went a bit cold after a hot start. They began the season 9-2, but followed with a 2-8 stretch that finished with the two no-hitters.

          • “Pretty speculative, Paul. Especially for first week of May!”

            Doug:
            For godsakes, I’ve had 95 years since 1917 to think about it :-)

      • Those two no-hitters against the White Sox were preceded by another no-hitter on May 2. That was the famous Hippo Vaughan-Fred Toney double no-hitter through 9 innings. Vaughan gave up a hit and a run in the top of the 10th and Toney ended up with the win and a no-hitter. That made 3 no-hitters in 5 days.

      • Just saw that the 9 hits the Twins amassed during the 4 game stretch I mentioned in comment 7 is the lowest total for a 4 game stretch in modern MLB history!

        • That being the case, the Twins broke the 1969 Angels mark of 10 hits in 4 games, starting with the 3 games mentioned in post 11. They followed those three with a 5-hit performance on Jun 10.

  4. The Orioles 3-game streak in ’95 was part of a season-ending five consecutive shutout wins to cap a disappointing year, but the 4th game in the streak was not a CG. That pitching staff should have been unbeatable: Mike Mussina, Kevin Brown, Scott Erickson, Ben McDonald (all in their prime), and an aging Jamie Moyer (then-32). Who woulda thought…?

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