Scoreless Inning Streaks By Dodgers Righthanded Trio Impressive
By John Ventola
The Los Angeles Dodgers have enjoyed the lefthanded servings of three outstanding pitchers since moving cross country from Brooklyn in 1958. Sandy Koufax, Fernando Valenzuela, and now Clayton Kershaw, have turned in multiple mound masterpieces, making the franchise one of major league baseball’s winningest teams. While stars in their own right (should that be left), they each had a one-time teammate that complemented them from the right-side, and posted unbelievable shutout-inning streaks, three of the six longest in major league history.
Sunday Dodgers righthander Zack Greinke gave up a third-inning run-scoring
groundout to New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom, ending his shutout inning streak at 45-2/3. He moved ahead of Hall of Famer Carl Hubbell into sixth place, besting Hubbell’s 1933 total by one out. Greinke had been unscored on in seven starts since June 13th (the home run by Mike Trout off Greinke to start off the All Star game did not go against the regular season streak).
He allowed only four singles in his seven innings of work against the Mets, giving up another run when he hit a batter with the bases loaded in the sixth inning. Greinke left the game losing 2-0, but was left with a no decision when his teammates rallied to tie before losing in the tenth inning.
Greinke’s six weeks of pitching dominance left him only 13-1/3 innings shy of Orel Hershiser’s mark of 59 consecutive shutout innings posted in 1988. His performances added to the Dodgers reputation of pitching excellence, but also has kept the club atop the National League West Division despite a slow start by Kershaw, last year’s runaway Cy Young award winner.
Opponents were batting a meager .094 against Greinke in his previous seven starts coming into the game Sunday. During that span, Greinke walked only four batters.
Hershiser capped off his record streak in the last regular season game of ’88, and would go on to pitch eight shutout innings against Oakland in the opening game of that year’s World Series (giving him 67 unofficial consecutive shutout innings), but the
record of 59 innings is based on regular season appearances only. He gave up a run in the first-inning of the first game of 1989, ending his shutout innings streak.
Don Drysdale and Koufax formed baseball’s top pitching duo in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. Drysdale put together his 58-inning shutout streak in 1968, a couple of years after Koufax was forced to retire prematurely at age 30 due to an arthritic elbow. Unbelievably, he threw six consecutive complete game shutouts during his streak.
Drysdale, who featured a three-quarter throwing motion, was the ideal sidekick for the straight overhand power delivery of Koufax, and the two were tough to beat when they were teammates. Manager Walt Alston combined an exciting running game, great defense, and his two aces to capture world championships in 1959, 1963, and 1965.
Walter Johnson, 55-2/3 innings in 1913, Jack Coombs, 53 innings in 1910, and Bob Gibson, 47 innings in 1968, still maintain their third through fifth positions in the consecutive scoreless innings pitched category. Johnson and Gibson are also Hall of Famers.
Pitching is probably the key element in baseball. The old adage that “good pitching will stop good hitting” is true more times than not. Watching a pitcher control a game by varying pitch speeds and location is something to appreciate. Velocity absolutely plays a big part in any pitcher’s success, and that was the case with each of the six Dodgers mentioned in this blog, although each had their own approach and repertoire of pitches.
It seems fitting that Koufax and Kershaw have names that start with “K”. The
lefthanders had, and have, outstanding stuff. Valenzuela used his screwball to make batters look silly when he popped up on the Dodger Stadium scene in 1981 to become the only pitcher to ever win both the Rookie of the Year award and Cy Young award in the same season. Drysdale had his buggy-whip delivery, while Hershiser in his hey-day, and Greinke today, used control and a complete arsenal of pitches.
Koufax/Drysdale, Valenzuela/Hershiser, Kershaw/Greinke, tough for opposing hitters to face these duos on consecutive days for sure. It takes more than two capable starters for any team to compete for championships, but the Dodgers have shown through the years that they are a team focused on excelling in the pitching part of the game.
In somewhat of a strange coincidence, both Drysdale and Hershiser went on to man the radio booth with long-time Dodgers play-by-play announcer Vin Scully. Maybe Greinke should start working on his “voice delivery” for future Dodgers radio duty.
Drysdale was able to witness and describe Hershiser’s performances to break his record twenty years afterwards. Hershiser, meanwhile, has been witness and able to verbalize his feelings of Greinke chasing his 27-year-old record. Not surprisingly, Drysdale and Hershiser said they were pulling for their records to be broken, particularly if it was done by another Dodger.
Los Angeles Dodgers is a class organization. Although pitching has been used by many franchises to win pennants (Atlanta Braves with three Hall of Famers inducted in last two years comes to mind), the team has the market of consecutive inning zeros all to itself.Thanks For Visiting JV Sport Shots .Com’s Website And Viewing Our Latest Blog(s) / Page(s). We Would Really Appreciate It If You Would Leave Us A Comment Or Remark Below. This Helps Us Provide Great Sports Content; You Would Like To See In Future Posts.
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