We’re coming into the final days of the first week of the 2016 MLB season, and history has already been made. After a bit of research, I have discovered that a record that has stood for just over 70 years was broken. Elsewhere, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished in over 50 years has found its way into Los Angeles Dodgers history.
The San Diego Padres opened up the season with a three-game set against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Unfortunately for the Padres, it seems like they forgot when the season began. For 27 innings, the Padres failed to score a single run. San Diego broke an MLB record that has stood since 1943 when the St.Louis Browns set the mark for futility, by going 26 innings without scoring a run. Following an 11-92 start at the plate against the Dodgers, the Padres erased any existence of the Browns’ futility in the record book.
When asked about the inability to score, rookie manager Andy Green was quoted as saying “There is still perspective here, not to be lost, We still do have 159 games left, and we will score runs this year. And we will win series this year.” Green must have had a crystal ball or the ability to see the future, as the Padres erupted for 13 runs (and their first win..) in the opening game of the series against the Colorado Rockies. Based on that outburst, Green’s statement holds true.
Meanwhile, travel about 115 miles north up I-5 and there was more history in the making. For 27 consecutive innings, the Dodgers pitching staff kept San Diego from crossing home plate. Their official shutout streak was extended to 31 innings, before the team eventually surrendered 15 runs in 14 innings against the San Francisco Giants.
Nevertheless, a 31-inning shutout streak is a very impressive feat. The Dodgers fell one inning shy of tying the record of the longest streak holding opponents scoreless to start a season, a record that was set by the 1963 St.Louis Cardinals.
Clayton Kershaw got things started in a big way on Monday with a dominant outing, allowing only one hit and striking out nine over seven innings. The bullpen closed things out with two inning of scoreless, three-hit ball. Scott Kazmir kept things going on Wednesday, throwing a one hit shutout over six innings. Once again, the bullpen took over and closed things out.
With the scoreless streak still in tact, Kenta Maeda toed the rubber on Wednesday. He surprised a lot of people when he homered in his second major league at-bat. Maeda extended the streak to 24 innings, by tossing six innings of scoreless baseball. The bullpen sealed the deal on the record, by closing out the last three innings without surrendering a run. Thus, the Dodgers found their way into history.
As important as the rotation was, the bullpen was just as important. Yimi Garcia, J.P. Howell, Joe Blanton, Kenley Jansen, Louis Coleman, Pedro Baez, and Chris Hatcher combined for eight scoreless frames of their own, keeping the streak alive in the process.
It all came to an end on Thursday afternoon when Alex Wood allowed five runs over five innings. Following Wood, Yimi Garcia only made it through two-thirds of an inning, allowing a pair of runs to score. Louis Coleman followed, pitching 1.1 innings of scoreless ball. Things only got worse after that as J.P. Howell, and Pedro Baez allowed five runs over a combined inning.
Los Angeles failed again to beat the Giants on Friday, losing 3-2 in ten innings. Ross Stipling was brilliant, going 7.1 innings allowing only one run. Dave Roberts made a questionable call by lifting Stipling in the 7th after he walked Angel Pagan with one out. Chris Hatcher relieved Stipling, and was tagged by Trevor Brown for the game-tying two-run home run. Things remained deadlocked, until Brandon Crawford took Joe Blanton deep on the second pitch of the 10th inning, winning the game for San Fran.
The Dodgers got off to a red-hot start just like the 1963 Cardinals did. Both teams started out with a three-game shutout streak, before dropping their next two. The Cardinals went on to finish 93-69, although they missed the postseason. Does a similar fate await the Dodgers? Only time will tell on that matter, but it will be an interesting story to watch as the season goes on.