7,441 consecutive games.
That's how many games since the Cubs were last no-hit; you surely know by now (if you didn't last night) that the last time the Cubs failed to get a hit in a game was Sandy Koufax's perfect game September 9, 1965, which occurred just three weeks after the last time they were no-hit in Wrigley Field, August 19, 1965 by the Reds' Jim Maloney.
Just two visiting pitchers -- Maloney and Fred Toney, also of the Reds, on May 2, 1917, have no-hit the Cubs in Wrigley Field in its 94-year history as the Cubs' home park.
For much of Tuesday night's 5-0 Cubs loss to the Pirates, it looked like A.J. Burnett was going to be the third. He breezed through the first seven innings, issuing just two walks and retiring Cubs effortlessly. Two batters after he hit Darwin Barney in the head (Barney left the game, but it appears he'll be fine), pinch-hitter Adrian Cardenas -- just recalled after the flurry of trades -- hit a sharp single to right field, the only Cubs hit of the game.
It was the first time a visiting pitcher had taken a no-hitter into at least the eighth inning at Wrigley Field since Alex Fernandez did it for the Marlins April 10, 1997; Dave Hansen broke that one up with one out in the ninth.
No-hitters are rare and special. I've seen two of them in person -- Carlos Zambrano's in Milwaukee in 2008, and Jack Morris' no-no over the White Sox April 7, 1984, an ugly game in which he walked six.
This streak, however -- which is the all-time record, having surpassed the former record holders, the Yankees, about two years ago -- is something the Cubs should be proud of, given the lack of other things to be proud about these days, and at this point, I figure, why not keep it going as long as possible?
7,441 games. A month from now, it'll be 47 years. How many of you were even born when Sandy Koufax threw his perfect game?
Funny thing, too. Look at this tweet, send out after the Pirates took a 4-0 lead on Neil Walker's first-inning grand slam:
Ryan Dempster joked he would've thrown a no-hitter Tue nite. Coleman won't. Trails 4-0 after Neal Walker GS in 1st.— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) August 1, 2012
Burnett almost did. He's been very, very good this year, one of the biggest reasons the Pirates have an excellent shot at the postseason.
Now, let's talk about Ryan Dempster, and the trade that sent him yesterday to the Texas Rangers. I don't know that much about either of the prospects acquired; they might turn into something special; they might be organizational depth; or they might wash out of baseball completely. We just don't know; we trust that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have a plan. So far, that plan has ridded the major-league roster of many favorites from the last few seasons. The Cub with the longest tenure on the 25-man roster is now Carlos Marmol, who debuted in 2006. Alfonso Soriano (2007) is next; Jeff Samardzija (2008) follows. There's just one player left even from 2009 -- Jeff Baker.
So this is a very new team, and Theo and Jed will be molding an organization that -- we hope -- will begin to produce quality major-league players in a couple of years. Two of those pieces (Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro) are already in place. More, hopefully, to follow.
The reaction here to the Dempster saga is what I would like to address. Without going through all the gory details, it appears that the Cubs could have, and should have, had the Braves' Randall Delgado in their rotation by now, in exchange for Dempster. They don't. That does not give any of us the right to impugn Dempster -- someone who's been an exemplary teammate for nine seasons -- in the way we have over the last week. It's led to some ugly language here, not only aimed at Dempster but at each other. I don't exempt myself from that; I've said some things here that I regret, and for that, I apologize.
We need to be better as human beings. We love this baseball team and want it to be the best it can possibly be, so it can at last win the World Series title we've all dreamed about our entire lives. But we've got to take a deep breath when things don't quite go the way we'd like, the way we'd hope, or the way they were (evidently) supposed to be.
Personally, I thank Ryan Dempster for nine good years. They weren't all great, and he wasn't good in the postseason. But he also did not deserve the vitriol he received. He had his reasons for doing what he did; I no longer care who's right and who's wrong. It's done. It will either work out or it won't.
Will Randall Delgado haunt our dreams for the next decade? Maybe. But perhaps someone else will come along who's better. We have built a great community here. I'd hate to see it lessened because the Cubs didn't get one 22-year-old pitcher.
And now, we embark on two months of a season which is likely going to be markedly worse at the major-league level because the Cubs have dealt away two very good starting pitchers, and will replace them with lesser beings. There will be one more roster move today (since the Cubs dealt away four players and brought up just three on Tuesday); Dale Sveum hinted in his postgame remarks that it'll likely be a relief pitcher.
The game preview for Wednesday afternoon's series finale will post at 11:30 a.m. CDT.