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Last night, there were two extra-inning games in MLB. If you’ve been paying attention this season, you won’t be surprised that the Astros lost one of those games

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, or that the Orioles won the other
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. Houston has now lost 11 straight extra-inning games, while Baltimore has won 12 straight. Both are among the longest such streaks in MLB history.

Let’s start with the happier streak. (I’ll have another post on the Amazin’ Astros at some point soon.) The Orioles are surprise contenders this season in large part due to their good fortune (and yeah, probably some skill) in close games. For instance, they have an astounding 22-6 record in 1-run games, which history suggests are much more heavily influenced by luck than wider-margin games. In games decided by two or more runs, the O’s are just 37-45, which is more in line with what prognosticators had in mind for them this year.

Another aspect of the Orioles’ success has been their extra-inning win streak, which as mentioned above, is now at 12 games. Their extra-inning record now sits at 12-2; no other MLB team has more than 10 wins in extra time (the Nats are 10-6). The only teams with fewer extra-inning losses have played less than half as many such games: the Braves are 5-1, the Pirates 3-0, and the Diamondbacks just 1-1. The Orioles (and the Pirates, for that matter) are on pace to post the highest winning percentage in extra-inning games since the 2006 Blue Jays went 7-1. As for the 12-game win streak, that places the Orioles in the top 10 in that category in the boxscore era (since 1918).

For the table below, “First” is the date of the first win in the streak, “Last” is the date of the last win in the streak, and “Streak-Buster” is the date of the loss that broke the streak. All 3 have links to the games in question. I put the latter column in because there was often a long period of time between the last win of the streak and the actual breaking of the streak. I think of a streak like this being “active” until the day it is broken, so adding the streak-buster gives a fuller picture of the length of the streak, in terms of the calendar. I put the total number of games played while the streak was active in parentheses of the Streak-Buster column.

The links under “Team” are for the first season of the team’s streak. Many of the streaks took place over two seasons, however.

Rk Team  First Last E-I Win Streak Streak-Buster
1 CLE
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5/7/1949
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9/1/1949
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17 4/18/1950
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 (active for 150 games)
2 NYM
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7/26/1983
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7/24/1984
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16 7/30/1984
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(active for 162 games)
3 CLE
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8/7/1994
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9/30/1995
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14 4/10/1996
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(active for 153 games)
PIT
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7/30/1959
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7/1/1960
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14 7/4/1960
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(active for 126 games)
 5 TOR
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8/28/1982
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8/17/1983
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13 8/24/1983
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(active for 158 games)
CIN
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8/12/1944
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6/27/1945
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13 7/19/1945
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(active for 130 games)
PHA
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7/25/1927
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9/8/1928
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13 4/23/1929
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(active for 220 games)
8 BAL
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4/16/2012
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8/7/2012
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*
12 * Still active (100 games so far)
9 SFG
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4/7/1973
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8/20/1973
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11 8/24/1973
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(active for 125 games)
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
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: View Play Index Tool Used
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Generated 8/8/2012.

The 1949 Indians went 18-1 in 19 extra-inning games, winning their last 17. They went 71-65 in regulation-length games and finished 3rd in the AL. In their very first game of the 1950 season, the streak was busted in a 7-6 loss to the Tigers in 10 innings.

The 1984 Mets split their streak evenly between two seasons, winning their last 8 extra-inning games of 1983 (they went 12-4 overall) and their first 8 such games of 1984 (finishing 11-1). The streak was active for exactly a full season’s worth of games before ending in a 3-1 loss to the Cardinals in 10 innings.

The 1994 Indians’ streak began just a few days before the strike hit and lasted through the entirety of their pennant-winning 1995 season, in which they were 13-0 in extras in the regular season. If you count postseason games, Cleveland’s streak actually reached 15 games, thanks to a 5-4 win over the Red Sox

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in 13 innings in Game 1 of the ALDS. It ended in Game 3 of that year’s ALCS, a 5-2 loss to the Mariners
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in 11 innings. Strangely enough, that streak was also active for 153 games between regular- and post-season play. The regular-season streak ended in a 3-2, 10-inning loss to the Orioles in the 6th game of the 1996 season.

The 1959 Pirates went 19-2 in extra innings; they had an 8-game win streak in between the two losses, then closed the year on a 7-game streak. They went just 59-74 in regulation, though, finishing 4th in the NL. The would win the World Series in 1960, however, buoyed by the continuation of the extra-inning streak, which lasted 7 more games before ending in a 7-6, 10-inning loss to the Braves on Independence Day.

The 1982-83 Blue Jays’ streak is kind of hilarious, because after winning 13 straight extra-inning games over the course of nearly a full year, they lost 3 straight such games on 3 straight days. Now that’s a rapid momentum shift.

The 1927-29 A’s had by far the longest streak on the list in terms of time and total games. Their streak started with 5 games in 1927, continued through the entire 1928 season (in which they were 8-0 in extras) and finally ended in the 5th game of the 1929 season, a 4-3 loss to the Senators in 11 innings.

Here’s another fun fact about the Orioles’ extra-inning success this year: they’re 12-0 against teams other than the Yankees. They lost consecutive extra-inning games to the Yanks in their first meeting in early April, but haven’t gone to extras in the 8 games they’ve played against New York since. Meanwhile, the O’s are 3-0 against the Red Sox in extra-inning games.

The 1973 Giants won their first 11 extra-inning games of that season and finished 13-2 in that category. They were just 75-72 in 9-inning games, however, and finished 3rd in the NL West.

As you can tell from the above examples, winning a lot of extra-inning games in a row doesn’t particularly bode well for the team’s overall success. Most of the teams above had good records, although like this year’s Orioles, many of them weren’t so good in 9-inning games. That indicates that maybe they weren’t as good as their records. Only the ’95 Indians made the playoffs in the midst of their streak–and they lost an extra-inning game in the playoffs. Two other teams (the ’60 Pirates and the ’29 A’s), though, won the World Series in the year that their streak was busted.

I continue to think that the Orioles are getting by on smoke, mirrors, a good bullpen, and some shrewd managing by Buck Showalter

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. They’re probably not going to make the playoffs or sustain their current winning percentage, but they are certainly improved over the Orioles teams of recent vintage, regardless of how they finish. That has to make Orioles fans optimistic for the future. And even if this season ends badly, there’s a chance that the O’s extra-inning magic can continue for a while longer, moving them closer to the top of the list and giving their fans a bit more to cheer for.

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2 Responses to The 2012 Orioles And The Longest Extra-Inning Win Streaks

  1. Tommy Walker
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    says:

    Top few streaks longer than I would have expected; I would have been willing to accept the Orioles current 12-er as the longest ever. This suggests the longest streaks in history, period, aren’t much longer than what you’d get if all games were decided by coin flip.

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  2. The 2012 Astros And The Longest Extra-Inning Loss Streaks | JunkStats
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    says:

    [...] The 2012 Orioles And The Longest Extra-Inning Win Streaks [...]

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