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Earlier this week, I delved into the Orioles’ 12-game extra-inning win streak

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, which is among the longest of all time. Today, I’ll similarly break down the Astros’ concurrent 11-game extra-inning loss streak, which is even rarer, historically speaking.

UPDATE 8/12/2012: Just a day after I posted this, the Astros came through with a 6-5 win over the Brewers

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in 10 innings. Scott Moore singled in the winning run for Houston after they loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the 10th. Congratulations to the ‘Stros on avoiding the worst extra-inning loss streak in history.

In fact, only one team has ever had an extra-inning losing streak longer than the Astros’ current recently concluded one, and that team had a fairly good excuse, as it was a new expansion team:

Rk  Team First Last E-I Loss Streak Streak-Buster
1 MON
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4/11/1969
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4/14/1970
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13 5/8/1970
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(active for 183 games)
2 HOU
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4/13/2012
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8/7/2012
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11 8/11/2012
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(active for 108 games)
ATL
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7/28/1989
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5/12/1990
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11 6/3/1990
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(active for 104 games)
MIN
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9/6/1981
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7/30/1982
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11 8/18/1982
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(active for 144 games)
CHC
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6/2/1980
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8/23/1980
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11 9/6/1980
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(active for 89 games)
PHI
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6/6/1973
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9/22/1973
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11 9/27/1973
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(active for 108 games)
MIN
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7/12/1964
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10/1/1964
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11 4/12/1965
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(active for 75 games)
8 CLE
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9/17/1992
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8/10/1993
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10 8/12/1993
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(active for 130 games)
NYM
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7/5/1992
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5/16/1993
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10 5/19/1993
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(active for 119 games)
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
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: View Play Index Tool Used
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Generated 8/10/2012.

The 1969 Expos were legendarily bad; they lost 110 games, which is tied for the second-worst expansion debut behind only the miserable 1962 Mets (the Expos’ cohorts, the Padres, also lost 110 in 1969). Furthermore, they had a 20-game losing streak, which is tied for the 3rd-longest since 1918. Add to all of that ignominy their 0-12 record in extra-inning games, which is the worst all-time (more on that in a later post). They didn’t win an extra-inning game until their second try of the 1970 season, a 7-6 win over their expansion brethren the Padres. They wouldn’t win an extra-inning game against a non-expansion team until August 28th

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of that year (over the Reds). Before that game, they were 1-17 in extras as a franchise.

This year’s Astros started the year 22-23. Since then, they are 14-54, a .206 winning percentage that would translate to a 33-129 record over a full season. They have a great chance to tie or break the Expos’ marks for the longest extra-inning loss streak and the worst extra-inning record in a full season.

The Braves of the late 1980′s are another example of a famously bad team, thanks in large part to their nationwide exposure on TBS. They lost their last 9 extra-inning contests of 1989 and their first two of 1990 before eking out a win over the Padres in June. Bobby Cox would move from the front office to the dugout a few weeks later, though he couldn’t stop the team from ending the year on a 7-game extra-inning losing streak. The Braves turned that category around in 1991 (along with everything else), going 8-6 in extras in that worst-to-first year.

The 1981 Twins lost their last extra-inning game, but most of the damage was done in the 1982 season, in which they lost their first 10 (and finished 1-13). The ’82 Twins were just bad overall; they went 7 weeks without winning back-to-back games starting on May 1st, including a 14-game losing streak.

The three teams mentioned above are the only three to lose their first 10 extra-inning games of a season.

What makes the 1980 Cubs’ streak so impressive is that it came in such a compressed period of time. Well, that and the fact that it included losses in 20 innings, 17 innings, and 15 innings (twice). In fact, only 3 of the 11 losses in the streak were in 11 innings or fewer. The Cubs’ fans didn’t just suffer that year; their suffering was drawn out in an almost obscene manner.

The Phillies won their first two extra-inning games of 1973. They also won their last extra-inning game that year. In between, however, they lost 11 straight. Eight of the eleven losses ended in the 10th inning, while none of them went beyond the 12th inning. Curiously, the three wins all came in the 13th inning or later (the 1st one went 20 innings!), so maybe the Phillies just needed to extend the game another couple innings and everything would have worked out fine.

Unlike most of the other teams on this list, the 1964 Twins weren’t bad. They finished a respectable 79-83. Heck, they even won their first 4 extra-inning games (and 7 of their first 9)… But then something weird happened, and they lost their last 11, including 3 extra-inning losses in 4 games at one point. Their losing streak was even more compressed than the Cubs’ streak, lasting less than half a season. The Twins would break the losing streak in the very first game of the 1965 season, however, and would go on to win the AL Pennant that year (going 11-7 in extras).

The 1992 Indians lost their last 4 extra-inning games in just a few weeks; it took the ’93 team more than 4 months to lose the next 4, before a rapid sequence of extra-inning games in August extended the streak to 10 and then quickly ended it. Both teams finished 76-86 overall.

At the same time as the Indians’ streak, the Mets were also enduring a stretch of extra-inning futility. They lost their last 7 extra-inning games of 1992 and their first 3 of 1993. The 1993 team lost 103 games, but actually finished with an 8-7 record in extras despite the poor start.

The Astros of 2012 won’t be remembered fondly by very many people. Really, it’s just by Jose Altuve fanatics and odd-stat nutcases like me that have a soft spot for this team. While I wouldn’t wish ill on the ‘Stros long-term, I do hope that they can avoid winning an extra-inning game the rest of the way, just to complete their dire season in fitting fashion.

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One Response to The 2012 Astros And The Longest Extra-Inning Loss Streaks

  1. Tommy Walker
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    says:

    Looks like the way to frame the ‘recently concluded’ goings on as unprecedented would be to celebrate the fact we had 10-game X-inn winning and losing streaks active at the same time. The only other candidate is Giants (wins) and Phillies (losses) in 1973. Your tables show that their streaks overlapped, but was there a moment when they were at double digits together?

    Montreal was a legendarily unpopular town for a ballplayer to be forced to play his home games, but there’s no way the ’69 Expos were a ‘legendarily bad’ team. Legend is the stuff of stories handed down, and when I came to baseball consciousness in ’75 or so it was *always* the Amazin’ Mets of 1962 that were talked about, and it was pretty much *still* always those Mets for my next 15 years as a fan.

    Even if legend can be whipped up from dried up numbers, perhaps the case for the Cleveland Spiders of 1899, most of the supporting statements undermine the idea that those Expos were especially bad. They were par for the course in the context of ’60s expansion, no worse than the same-year Padres (and better than the Mets), and your readers had previously been treated to a reminder that it’s the blowouts and not the squeakers that better indicate whether a team is good or bad.

    How about a list of most extra innings during an extra-inning winning or losing streak? That might be the best way to make our eyes bug out about the 1980 Cubs.

    Reply
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