Balfour owns an equal part of it now, having matched Dennis Eckersley's 21-year-old record of 40 consecutive saves on Friday in the A's 6-3 win over the Royals. It's longest active streak in the Majors.
Of the 40 saves, 22 have come this season, and Balfour represents the only Major League closer without a blown save.
"Phenomenal," said manager Bob Melvin, after Balfour recorded two outs, stranding two in Friday's win. "Like him, I don't like to talk about it a whole lot. It's pretty phenomenal. That's quite the pitcher that he just tied."
"Obviously the guy has had a great career," Balfour said of Eckersley. "I can only speak highly of him, and if I can have half the career he had, you gotta walk away being a happy man. For what he did for the game, I always look up and see his name and number out there every day when I take the mound at home, and to know that that's up there, by all those greats ... I don't know what else to say."
Balfour's work speaks for itself. The 35-year-old righty, whose last blown save came on April 29, 2012, has not allowed a run in 14 of his last 15 games and 25 of his past 27. He has a 1.82 ERA on the season, to go along with a 1.10 WHIP and .198 opponents' average against him.
Perhaps what's most remarkable about Balfour's stretch is that, in preserving those 40 saves, 17 have involved one-run leads. Eckersley only had to deal with such a situation six times during his run.
But that's just Balfour doing his job, he'll say. The accolades -- he's a likely All-Star participant this year -- and records, like the one he reached Friday, that come with it are just extra.
"It's an accomplishment," he said, "but I don't like to look at it too much. I'm superstitious, obviously, but I never knew about this, and it's not something I set out to do. It just happened. I've still got a lot of work to do. I'm going out there playing for a win every night. That's my main focus, just trying to make pitches."