PROGRAMMING NOTE: Because of the quick turnaround between last night's loss and today's day game, the Frosty Mug is off today. It will return tomorrow. - KL
It was overshadowed by last night's result (a 5-4 Brewer loss) and other milestone (Aramis Ramirez's 2000th hit), but when John Axford recorded the final out in the top of the ninth last night he made a little bit of history: He's now gone 20 consecutive appearances without allowing a run.
By reaching 20, he's now tied for the second longest streak in franchise history. He's also tied for the 125th longest streak in major league history and more than halfway to the record, Craig Kimbrel's 38 game streak in 2011.
Axford's streak started on May 15, when he recorded a single out in the eighth inning of a 3-1 loss to the Pirates. That successful outing dropped his ERA from 9.20 to 9.00. 18 innings later, he reached 4.09 with his seven-pitch inning last night.
Here's a quick look at the other Brewer relievers who have pitched 20 scoreless outings:
2nd place (tied): Brian Shouse, 20 games, July 14-August 25, 2006
Streaks like this one may actually deserve their own category. As a lefty specialist, Shouse only pitched 11.1 innings during his 20 game streak, and that number is inflated by a single unlikely occasion where Ned Yost left him in for two innings. Shouse faced two batters or less in eleven of the 20 games in this streak.
2nd place (tied): Brian Shouse, 20 games, June 23-August 5, 2007
Almost precisely a year later, Shouse did it again. This was actually a much more dominant streak, as Shouse pitched 16.1 innings over these 20 games and allowed just three hits for a .063/.167/.083 opponent batting line. It wasn't enough to save the declining Brewers, though, as they went 8-12 in these games.
1st place: Doug Jones, 23 games, August 11-September 26, 1997
Compared to Shouse's pair of streaks and Axford's current one, Jones' late-season efforts in 2007 are even more impressive. Jones actually pitched 27 innings over his 23 game streak, including one 3.2 inning outing and a couple more six-out appearances. He also won three games and saved 13 during the streak while holding opposing batters to a .132/.186/.154 line.
Furthermore, Jones accomplished this streak with a fastball that would barely break glass. This MLB.com article discussing his Hall of Fame candidacy refers to him as "The Sultan of Slow," and notes that he did most of his damage with an arsenal of off-speed pitches.
It's worth noting that, if you count innings instead of appearances, a couple of Brewer relievers have had longer scoreless streaks than Jones:
|Ray Searage||August 26, 1984||April 16, 1985||17||29.2|
|Bill Castro||August 16, 1977||June 4, 1978||19||27.1|
|Doug Jones||August 11, 1997||September 26, 1997||23||27|
Axford's 18.1 scoreless innings have him eighth on this list, but also represent the longest streak in the 16 years since Jones.