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Saturday, in an 8-3 victory over the Rays, three Orioles pitchers (Dylan Bundy, Donnie Hart, and Mychal Givens) ended Baltimore’s streak of 20 straight games with five or more runs allowed.

I’d become aware of the streak a week earlier, at the BP Ballpark Event in Baltimore. (If you haven’t been to these before, they’re really fun, and you can still get tickets for the events in Pittsburgh and Minnesota.) Sitting in the stands, watching the Orioles beat the Cardinals 15-7, a couple of the knowledgeable fans who were with us pointed out that the O’s had given up five or more runs in what was then a near-record 13 consecutive games.

Being a smartphone-owning baseball nerd, I checked the Baseball-Reference Play Index, and sure enough the O’s had, through that game, tied the record for the fourth-longest such streak since 1913. I found that interesting. But I also found the list of the top streaks interesting:

Rank

Team

Start

End

Games

W

L

T1

Phillies

9/3/1924

9/24/1924

20

4

16

T1

Orioles

6/3/2017

6/23/2017

20

6

14

T3

Phillies

7/4/1929

7/17/1929

15

5

10

T3

Browns

8/8/1937

8/22/1937

15

3

12

T3

Rockies

6/18/2001

7/4/2001

15

2

13

T6

Senators

4/25/1928

5/12/1928

14

4

10

T6

A’s

8/6/1933

8/20/1933

14

5

9

T6

Devil Rays

5/24/1999

6/8/1999

14

2

12

T9

Red Sox

7/4/1925

7/18/1925

13

2

11

T9

Cardinals

6/27/1929

7/8/1929

13

1

11

T9

Cubs

5/9/1930

5/23/1930

13

4

9

T9

Pirates

9/9/2000

9/21/2000

13

3

10

T9

Cardinals

6/3/2003

6/16/2003

13

7

6

T9

Royals

7/27/2005

8/10/2005

13

1

12

T9

Rays

6/16/2016

6/28/2016

13

1

12

Look, consistently giving up five or more runs per game is a bad idea. You wind up losing a lot of games. The average record of the above 15 teams during their streak is 3-11. The aggregate winning percentage of these teams is .230, the equivalent of a 37-125 record.

But check out those 2003 Cardinals. They gave up five or more runs for 13 straight games, but they wound up with a winning record. They swept the Blue Jays on June 3-5, winning 11-5, 8-5, and 13-5. They took two of three against Baltimore on June 6-8, posting 8-6 and 11-10 wins around an 8-1 defeat. They did the same in Boston, winning 9-7, losing 13-1, and winning 8-7. Then they got swept in New York, dropping four to the Yankees by 5-2, 13-4, 5-2, and 9-4 scores. All told, though, that’s a winning record despite being outscored 98-82.

That got me thinking (and Play Indexing)—what are other examples of teams that went on streaks, either good or bad, but whose performance defied their streakiness? Here are four. (Note that in all cases the Play Index database for streaks goes back only to 1913, and I’ve included only streaks that entirely occurred in one season, ignoring ones that spanned two years.)

1919 Phillies: Losing record despite 15 straight complete games.

Complete-game streaks, as you might imagine, are an early 20th century thing. Of the 21 teams with streaks of 12 or more complete games, all but one occurred prior to the end of World War II, and the one exception was the 1968 Year of the Pitcher world champion Tigers.

Usually, a long string of complete games is indicative of success on the mound. The 21 teams with streaks of a dozen or more complete games had a combined 193-89 record, a .684 winning percentage that equates to a 111-51 season. They had an aggregate ERA of 2.02. When you pitch that way, you usually win.

Unless you’re the 1919 Phillies. They own the fourth-longest complete-game streak since 1913, 15 straight games, but managed to go only 6-9. In their nine losses, they were shut out once, scored one run twice, two runs three times, three runs once, and four runs twice. They weren’t crummy only during their streak; they finished 47-90 in a World War I-shortened season, last in the National League and 47.5 games behind the Reds. (Yeah, those Reds.) The 1913 Boston Braves are the only other team with a streak of 12 or more complete games that failed to post a winning record, and their streak was shorter with a better (5-7) record.

1925 Phillies: .500 record despite allowing 11 or more hits in 14 straight games.

This one may sound contrived, but it isn’t. This is a good one.

  • There have been 10 teams that allowed 11 or more hits in nine straight games. All had losing records. In aggregate, they went 14-76.

  • There have been five teams that allowed 11 or more hits in 10 straight games. All had losing records. In aggregate, they went 10-38.

  • There have been four teams that allowed 11 or more hits in 11 straight games. All had losing records. In aggregate, they went 10-33.

  • There’s been only one team that allowed 11 or more hits in 12 straight games. It went 1-11.

Only one team has had a longer streak: The 1925 Phillies, who went 14 straight games—they blew right past the 13-game mark—allowing 11 or more hits. Their ERA was 6.12 during those games. Their RA9 was 7.34. Their WHIP was 1.86. And they split them. Their seven victories were by scores of 10-9 (twice), 10-6 (three times), 9-7, and 4-3. This team wasn’t as awful as the 1919 club cited above, as they were 67-86 for sixth in the National League, though they were last in the league in runs allowed. Of the 21 teams with streaks of nine or more games allowing 11 or more hits, the 1925 Phillies possess both the longest streak and the only non-losing record.

1927 Browns: Losing record despite scoring five or more runs in 14 straight games.

The beauty of this one is symmetry. I got the idea for this article from this year’s Orioles, who gave up five or more runs in 20 straight games. The mirror image of that streak is teams that score five or more runs in consecutive games. The standout is the Orioles’ progenitor, the St. Louis Browns.

There have been 26 teams since 1913 to score five or more runs in 13 or more straight games. In aggregate, those teams went 283-86, winning 77 percent of their games. That’s not a surprise; a cumulative .332/.403/.529 slash line will do that for you.

The 1927 Browns are the only team among the 26 that failed to win at least 60 percent of their games during their streak. Heck, they failed to win a simple majority. They went 6-8. That was the year the Yankees stormed to a 110-44 record, but the Browns weren’t the worst team in the league; their 59-95 record, while trailing New York by 50.5 games, was 8.5 games better than the 51-103 Red Sox. They led the league in runs allowed, 5.83 per game, and that’s what hurt them during their streak, as they lost games by scores of 14-11, 14-10, 10-8, 9-8, 9-6, 7-6, 7-5, and 6-5.

1986 Detroit Tigers: .500 record despite 12 straight games of three or fewer runs scored.

Since 1913, 54 teams have scored three or fewer runs in 12 or more straight games. As you might imagine, that’s not a recipe for success. They were 145-559 during those streaks, a .206 winning percentage that’s equivalent to a 33-129 record. They scored an average of 1.65 runs per game. Hitting .206/.259/.266, as those teams did during their streaks, tends to impede winning. The 1914 Reds went 0-14 during a streak of three or fewer runs scored. The 1916 A’s and Cardinals, 1954 and 1988 Orioles, and 1969 Expos were 0-12.

Every one of the 54 teams, in fact, had a losing record, except one. The 1986 Tigers managed to split 12 straight games in which scored three or fewer runs, averaging exactly two runs per game, while hitting .205/.268/.284. They scored three runs three times, two runs seven times, one run once, and were shut out once during their streak. But they beat the Yankees by 3-2, 3-1, and 1-0 scores; the Brewers twice by 2-1, and the Blue Jays 2-1 as well. The Tigers were a decent club that year; their 87-75 record was third in the seven-team Eastern Division. They scored the fourth-most runs and gave up the fifth-fewest in the league. And, playing out the season from September 20 to October 2, they came up with wins despite scoring well under the league average of 4.6 runs per game that year.

As for the Orioles, they’ll have to content themselves with the knowledge that their 6-14 record during their streak is the fifth-best among the 15 teams to have given up five or more runs in 13 or more straight games.