Tuesday, September 10, 2013

It's Official! Pirates Get First Winning Season Since 1992

The Pittsburgh Pirates won their 82nd game of the season last night, 1-0 over the Texas Rangers, to ensure the Steel City franchise's first winning (above .500) season since 1992. The Pirates' streak of 20 straight losing seasons was the longest such streak in any of the four major sports leagues in North America (MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL).

I created the following graphic to indicate how many wins the Pirates attained from 1993 (the year the string of losing seasons began) to the present. The break-even point of 81 wins is highlighted. Unless you have amazing eyesight, you'll probably want to click on the graphic to enlarge it.

Congratulations to the Pirates and their fans. Not only has this year's team ended the franchise's record streak of losing seasons; it is a virtual cinch to make the playoffs (Pittsburgh's probability of making the playoffs is currently listed as 98.7% on ESPN's standings). I like that the Pirates have achieved a winning record relatively early, rather than taking things down to the final days of the season.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Red Sox P Koji Uehara Has Retired 27 Straight Batters

On a night when San Francisco Giant pitcher Yusmeiro Petit came within one strike of a perfect game, there actually was another pitcher the same evening who retired his 27th straight batter (the conceptual equivalent of a perfect game).

That pitcher is Boston Red Sox reliever Koji Uehara, whose string of getting batters out has accumulated over nine appearances, most recently tonight against the New York Yankees. The following graphic (on which you can click to enlarge) displays the opposing teams, dates, batters, and types of out during Uehara's streak.

What's interesting is that almost exactly a year ago, Uehara, then pitching for the Texas Rangers, retired 25 straight hitters. One criterion for being considered a streaky performer, according to some analysts, is the ability to record hot stretches on repeated occasions. Uehara thus seems able to get "on a roll," "in the zone," "on fire," or any similar term one chooses.

The records for consecutive batters retired by a pitcher are 45 by Mark Buehrle (for a starter) and 41 by Bobby Jenks (for a reliever). Uehara still has a way to go to catch these marks. However, having separate streaks of 25 and (at least) 27, as Uehara has done, is extremely impressive.

UPDATE 1: Bob Timmermann informed me that, "Kenley Jansen of the Dodgers also retired 27 straight batters this year from July 23 to August 8." Here's an article on Jansen's background and accomplishments.

UPDATE 2: Uehara's streak reached 37 straight batters retired, until being snapped in a September 17 game against the Baltimore Orioles.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Pirates Win 81st, End Streak of 20 Straight Losing Seasons

The Pittsburgh Pirates have won again tonight (4-3 at Milwaukee), bringing their record to 81-57 for the season. They cannot end with a losing (sub-.500) record, with 81-81 being the worst record they can possibly end up with. The Pirate franchise's streak of 20 straight losing seasons is now over and it looks like Pittsburgh will finish well above .500, with 24 games left to play. We've been charting the Pirates' wins as they closed in on .500 and here is the latest entry...

Monday, September 02, 2013

Pirates Reach 80 Wins

A 5-2 win today at Milwaukee has brought the Pittsburgh Pirates to an 80-57 record on the season. One more win will ensure at least a break-even 81-81 for the Pirates and another win after that (82) will ensure a winning (above .500) record. The last time Pittsburgh recorded a winning record was 1992. I am tracking the Pirates' win total until they reach 82...