Chasing Hershiser: Inside the numbers during Zack Greinke’s scoreless streak

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Dodgers starter Zack Greinke extended his scoreless innings streak to 43 2/3 innings with eight shutout frames against the Nationals on Sunday. It’s the longest streak since former Dodgers pitcher Orel Hershiser set the major league record with 59 scoreless innings during the 1988 season. Greinke, overall, scattered three hits with a walk and 11 strikeouts. He now has a 9-2 record with a 1.30 ERA, a 0.82 WHIP, and a 117/21 K/BB ratio in 131 1/3 innings.

Hershiser’s streak spanned seven starts between August 30 and September 28. He allowed two runs to the Expos in the fifth inning before finishing out the rest of the season in scoreless fashion. He was in the midst of eight consecutive complete games and would’ve made it nine had the game in which he made his final start of the season not gone 16 innings — he went 10. Greinke’s streak thus far has spanned six starts, beginning in the first inning on June 18 against the Rangers. The pitchers’ respective stat lines during those spans of time:

  • Hershiser: 7 GS, 64 IP (9 1/3 IP per start), 36 H, 2 ER, 11 BB, 43 K
  • Greinke: 6 GS, 43 2/3 IP (7 1/3 IP per start), 19 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 42 K

ESPN Stats & Info notes that Greinke is only the third pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) to rack up six consecutive scoreless starts in a season. Hershiser and Hideo Nomo are the others. They also point out that opposing hitters have hit to the tune of a .094 batting average against Greinke’s fastball, which is 53 points lower than any other qualified pitcher in that span of time.

According to Baseball Reference, Greinke is also the 14th pitcher since 1914 to rack up at least six starts of at least six innings each while limiting the opposition to four or fewer hits in each outing. It’s an eclectic list:

Name Strk Start End Games Tm
Johan Santana 2004-06-15 2004-08-01 10 MIN
Ted Lilly 2011-09-17 2012-05-07 8 LAD
A.J. Burnett 2007-08-12 2007-09-13 7 TOR
Garrett Richards 2014-06-04 2014-07-01 6 LAA
Matt Harvey 2012-09-19 2013-04-24 6 NYM
Carlos Zambrano 2010-09-04 2010-10-02 6 CHC
Carlos Zambrano 2006-05-16 2006-06-10 6 CHC
Pedro Martinez 2006-04-22 2006-05-20 6 NYM
Sid Fernandez 1989-09-21 1990-04-22 6 NYM
Mark Langston 1988-08-29 1988-09-24 6 SEA
Jim Palmer 1972-05-05 1972-05-28 6 BAL
Nolan Ryan 1971-04-29 1971-05-29 6 NYM
Bob Feller 1946-07-24 1946-08-13 6 CLE
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/19/2015.

By the way, it’s going to take some work to overcome Greinke in the NL Cy Young Award race. With Sunday’s outing, Greinke expanded his ERA lead to 79 points over Max Scherzer, 1.30 to 2.09. Four other hurlers are on the periphery: A.J. Burnett (2.11), Jacob deGrom (2.14), Gerrit Cole (2.30), and Shelby Miller (2.33). For Greinke to get his ERA back to 2.00, at his current rate of about seven innings per start, he would need to allow 30 runs over his next 84 innings over 12 starts, which is the equivalent of a 3.21 ERA.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.