The 10 longest scoreless-inning streaks

The 10 longest scoreless-inning streaks

Pitching a shutout is an impressive accomplishment. Yet for a select group of pitchers, nine scoreless innings has been nothing more than a starting point.

The best scoreless streaks in baseball have covered the equivalent of more than four consecutive shutouts. Each one has required an incredible combination of stuff, savvy, focus, good defensive support and good fortune.

Here is a breakdown of the 10 longest scoreless streaks, going back to the start of the live-ball era in 1920. (For reference, we've also included a list of the 10 longest streaks of all time at the bottom of the page.) Note that in 1998, the Elias Sports Bureau adjusted the way it measures streaks so that a pitcher does not get credit for any outs recorded during an inning in which he is charged with an earned or unearned run.

1. Orel Hershiser, Dodgers, 59 IP, Aug. 30-Sept. 28, 1988
Hershiser began his streak by ending his outing at Montreal on Aug. 20 with four scoreless frames. The right-hander then held the opposition without a run in each of his six September starts, throwing five straight nine-inning shutouts before finishing with 10 innings in a game the Dodgers lost, 2-1, to the Padres in 16. Overall, Hershiser threw 41 of his 59 innings on the road, including the final 28, locking up the National League Cy Young Award in the process.

Though only regular-season innings count in the record books, Hershiser unofficially extended his streak to 67 in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series against the Mets on Oct. 4. That postseason, he posted a 1.05 ERA over 42 2/3 innings, threw two shutouts and was named Most Valuable Player of both the NLCS and World Series. The streak could have continued in 1989, but Hershiser allowed a run in the first inning of his season debut against the Reds.

2. Don Drysdale, Dodgers, 58 IP, May 14-June 8, 1968
Drysdale was 31 years old and in the 13th of his 14 seasons in 1968, the so-called "Year of the Pitcher." On May 14 against the Cubs at Dodger Stadium, the Hall of Fame righty tossed the first of six consecutive shutouts, which remains a Major League record. The streak finally ended with a sacrifice fly by Phillies pinch-hitter Howie Bedell in the fifth inning of a game on June 8. Twenty years later, Drysdale was working as a broadcaster for the Dodgers and was on hand to see Hershiser eclipse his record.

Before Drysdale, Walter Johnson held the all-time scoreless innings record, with a 55 2/3-inning streak for the Washington Senators in 1913. That remains the third-best mark in history if the dead-ball era is included (see the list below).

3. Bob Gibson, Cardinals, 47 IP, June 2-26, 1968
With Drysdale's streak still going, Gibson began one of his own, over the final two innings of a complete-game victory against the Mets, in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Shea Stadium. He followed that up with five straight shutouts before allowing a run in the first inning on July 1 at Dodger Stadium. Coincidentally, Gibson defeated Drysdale that day, allowing only the one run. Gibson's streak was part of a longer run of 11 straight complete games (including eight shutouts), during which he allowed three runs over 99 innings, for a 0.27 ERA. That season, he recorded a live-ball era record 1.12 ERA, posting 28 complete games and 13 shutouts.

Gibson's 17 Strikeouts in 1968

4. Zack Greinke, Dodgers, 45 2/3 IP, June 18-July 26, 2015
On July 19 at Washington, Greinke joined Hershiser -- a current Dodgers broadcaster -- and Drysdale as the only pitchers since at least 1914 to put together six straight scoreless starts, and the first to do so while also surrendering four or fewer hits in each.

Greinke's streak ended in the third inning of his next start, against the Mets, just after his streak became the fourth-longest in history. Over his 45 2/3 innings, he struck out 43 batters while walking four. Opponents hit .124/152/.144 against him while reaching third base only twice.

5. Carl Hubbell, Giants, 45 1/3 IP, July 13-Aug. 1, 1933
The Hall of Fame left-hander won the NL MVP Award in 1933, when he led the league in wins (23), ERA (1.66), innings (308 2/3) and shutouts (10). Three of those shutouts came during this streak, which actually included two relief appearances. On July 19 at Pittsburgh, Hubbell took over with two outs in the first inning and went the rest of the way with 8 1/3 scoreless frames. He also tossed two innings out of the bullpen on July 30, two days before his streak ended in the sixth inning of a start against the Giants. Hubbell, a screwball artist, didn't pull off this feat by overpowering hitters, logging just 10 strikeouts over 37 1/3 innings during the streak's five full outings.

6. Sal Maglie, Giants, 45 IP, Aug. 16-Sept. 13, 1950
Nicknamed "The Barber" for his tendency to throw up-and-in fastballs, Maglie debuted in the Majors as a 28-year-old in 1945, then didn't pitch at that level again until '50. Initially a reliever, he eventually worked his way into the rotation and wound up posting an NL-best 2.71 ERA over 47 games (16 starts). His streak included six starts and three relief appearances. During the streak's seven full outings, he posted a modest 12-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio but allowed only three extra-base hits, all doubles.

Greinke's epic scoreless streak

7. Brandon Webb, D-backs, 42 IP, July 20-Aug. 17, 2007
Webb was the NL's defending Cy Young Award winner in 2007, when he went 18-10 with a 3.01 ERA to finish as the runner-up. The righty began his streak in the final inning of his start at Wrigley Field on July 20, then racked up five straight scoreless outings after that. The last three of those were complete games, including a 1-0 Arizona win on Aug. 11 against Washington, and a two-hitter on Aug. 17 at Atlanta. Webb was the first pitcher since Roger Clemens in 1998 to record three consecutive shutouts. During his scoreless streak, Webb allowed 24 hits and a .162 average.

8 (tie). Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers, 41 IP, June 13-July 10, 2014
Kershaw's streak arrived in the midst of an NL MVP Award-winning campaign that also saw the lefty capture his third NL Cy Young Award in four seasons while going 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA. In his first full outing of the streak, on June 18 against the Rockies, he struck out 15 in a no-hitter that came one Hanley Ramirez error away from a perfect game. Over the course of the 41 innings, Kershaw retired the leadoff man 36 times and racked up 52 strikeouts.

Must C: Kershaw's streak snapped

8 (tie). Ted Lyons, White Sox, 41 IP, Aug. 9-26, 1926
Like Kershaw, Lyons tossed a no-hitter during his streak, on Aug. 21 at Fenway Park. According to SABR, the Hall of Fame righty walked the first batter of that game on four pitches, then allowed no more baserunners the rest of the way, with the exception of an error. Lyons' streak also included a six-inning relief appearance in a 13-inning win at Cleveland on Aug. 11, two days after he threw a complete game. It ended in agonizing fashion, with Lyons tossing nine scoreless innings at Washington before giving up an unearned run in the 10th to lose, 1-0. The last 34 innings of Lyons' streak came on the road.

8 (tie). Luis Tiant, Indians, 41 IP, April 28-May 17, 1968
The third member of this list from "The Year of the Pitcher," the Cuban righty led the American League with a 1.60 ERA and nine shutouts that season. His streak started with four consecutive shutouts, three of them on the road, in which Tiant gave up just 14 total hits (one for extra bases) and struck out 35 over 36 innings, with opponents hitting .118 off him. Four years later, Tiant authored another streak for the Red Sox, this one lasting 40 innings and also including four straight shutouts. Walter Johnson (1913 and '18) is the only other pitcher in baseball history with multiple scoreless streaks of at least 40 innings.

Longest scoreless streaks in MLB history, including dead-ball era (before 1920)
Via Elias Sports Bureau
1. Orel Hershiser, Dodgers, 59 IP, Aug. 30-Sept. 28, 1988
2. Don Drysdale, Dodgers, 58 IP, May 14-June 8, 1968
3. Walter Johnson, Senators, 55 2/3 IP, April 10-May 14, 1913
4. Jack Coombs, Athletics, 53 IP, Sept. 5-Sept. 25, 1910
5. Bob Gibson, Cardinals, 47 IP, June 2-26, 1968
6. Zack Greinke, Dodgers, 45 2/3 IP, June 18-July 26, 2015
7. Carl Hubbell, Giants, 45 1/3 IP, July 13-Aug. 1, 1933
8 (tie). Cy Young, Red Sox, 45 IP, April 25-May 17, 1904
8 (tie). Doc White, White Sox, 45 IP, Sept. 12-30,1904
8 (tie). Sal Maglie, Giants, 45 IP, Aug. 16-Sept. 4, 1950

Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.