Jonathan Papelbon protected a one-run lead Thursday against the Mets to earn his 30th save of the season. It’s the seventh year in a row he’s reached the milestone, a streak that is going to be by far the longest in baseball once the season ends.
Besides Papelbon, only Mariano Rivera had saved 30 games every season from 2006-11. In fact, he had done it a major league-record nine straight years. However, that streak is over now due to injury. The same goes for Brian Wilson’s streak of four straight seasons.
Incredibly, by the time 2012 ends, no major league pitcher besides Papelbon will be working on a streak of even three 30-save seasons. Along with Papelbon, Rivera and Wilson, only five pitchers had 30 saves in both 2010 and ’11:
Heath Bell – 19 saves in 2012
Carlos Marmol – 16 saves in 2012
Francisco Cordero – 2 saves in 2012
Neftali Feliz – 0 saves in 2012
Juan Carlos Oviedo – 0 saves in 2012
So, entering next year, the second longest streak of 30-save seasons will be shared by several guys with two: Craig Kimbrel, Joel Hanrahan, Jose Valverde, Chris Perez, J.J. Putz and maybe John Axford (he has 22 at the moment).
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.