History x 2

It’s truly been amazing to see the three terrific pitching performances turned in by the Red Sox this week. Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester each recorded a game score of at least 75 — an impressive feat tempered only by the fact that none was able to receive a win for his efforts.

That’s historic in two ways. First, no set of Sox starters since Fergie Jenkins, Rick Wise and Luis Tiant in June 1977 has recorded game scores that high in three consecutive starts. Second, no two Sox starters have ever in the Retrosheet era received losses in back-to-back games with game scores of 75 or greater.

Think about that. In the last 52 years, Red Sox pitchers have recorded a game score of 75+ 792 times [Update: link added]. Only five times now have three of them come consecutively — and, until this week, none since the advent of modern bullpen usage (the other four: June 1977, July 1972, July 1966 and Sept. 1958).

The flip side: In those 792 games, the starters received a loss only 36 times and a no-decision 40 times — never consecutively until Clay Buchholz was hung with the L on Monday and again as Lester received the no-decision Tuesday. In all, the Sox have lost a game in which their starter provided such an effort just 59 times in 792 starts (a tidy .925 winning percentage) — again, never consecutively until this week.

So congratulations to the Sox starters for their impressive streak. And sympathies to the Sox starters for their equally impressive — though unfortunate — streak.

And as impressive as the last three games have been for the Sox’ starters, it doesn’t really rival the following series from 1978, when the pitching staff was vital to forcing the decisive playoff game against the Yankees.

  • Dennis Eckersley, 9/26: 9 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K, 75 GS, 6-0 win
  • Luis Tiant, 9/27: 6 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 3 K, 59 GS, 5-2 win
  • Mike Torrez, 9/28: 9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 7 BB, 4 K, 78 GS, 1-0 win
  • Bob Stanley, 9/29: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K, 72 GS, 11-0 win
  • Dennis Eckersley, 9/30: 9 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 9 K, 81 GS, 5-1 win
  • Luis Tiant, 10/1: 9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 87 GS, 5-0 win

That’s a final line of 49 IP, 21 H, 3 R, 13 BB, 24 K. That’s a starter ERA of 0.55 over the final six games of the regularly scheduled season. [Further update: Missed a run] Makes the 1.17 starters’ ERA over the past three days seem downright pedestrian.

3 comments… add one
  • Those two Eck starts are just silly.

    Brad April 30, 2008, 9:33 am
  • The Sox starting pitching staff seem to be competing with Roy Halladay for the Walter Johnson award.
    There should really be one of those – to be presented to the best pitcher with the worst W/L record (or the suckiest team offense) of the season.
    If you don’t like using the Big Train’s name (maybe on the grounds that the Senators didn’t suck enough), then we could use Nap Rucker or some other Deadball Era hard luck artist.
    Really, there is something very retro about all of this – and it harks back to a period much more distant than the past 52 years.
    I’ll bet that the old Senators or the Hitless Wonder White Sox of the 1900-1910 period produced results like this pretty often, but I admit I’m too lazy to look it up……….

    dabize April 30, 2008, 10:07 am
  • I really wish there was a better way to look that kind of stuff up, too, but until Retrosheet manages to work all the way back to 1901, we’re kind of stuck. Unless you want to look at old, varying quality scanned Sporting News box scores from 1901-55. A sure way to damage your eyesight.

    Paul SF April 30, 2008, 10:27 am

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