Jonathan Papelbon’s 30-save streak stands alone

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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).

Chad Kuhl underwent elbow surgery

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Per Todd Tomczyk, the Pirates’ director of sports medicine, starter Chad Kuhl underwent right elbow surgery on Wednesday, MLB.com’s Adam Berry reports. The Pirates should provide more details about the nature of the surgery and Kuhl’s timetable soon.

Kuhl, 26, has been out of action since late June with a strained right forearm. He had been on a throwing program but experienced a setback earlier this month.

This season, Kuhl made 16 starts, putting up a 4.55 ERA with 81 strikeouts and 33 walks across 85 innings.