When Cubs held 45 batters in a row hitless

You may have read or heard that during the Dodgers' 16-inning, 5-3 win at San Diego on Wednesday, their pitchers faced 38 consecutive batters without allowing a hit.

After Adam Frazier of the Padres singled in the fifth inning, starter Walker Buehler retired 7 in a row before issuing a walk.

Joe Kelly then became the first of 7 consecutive relievers who combined to hold the Padres hitless through the end of the 15th. They did walk 8 -- 7 of them intentionally.

Corey Knebel took over in the 16th and retired the first batter he faced. He intentionally balked the Zombie Runner/Manfred Man to third, then served up a home run to Fernando Tatis Jr., ending the streak of 38 hitless batters.



That matched the 38 in a row by the Pirates at New York on April 28, 1985. Darryl Strawberry's grand slam with 1 out in the first was the Mets' last hit until Rafael Santana singled leading off the 12th.

Rusty Staub, the next batter, made a hit, too: a double. But the Mets eventually left the bases loaded and the game did not end until the 18th, when a walk, a single and an error by the first baseman gave the Mets a 5-4 victory.


But 38 straight batters without a hit is not a record.

It is the second most, but a distant second.

The record is 45, which is 5 full rotations through the batting order. And it belongs to the Cubs.



They accomplished that incredible feat on July 6, 1980, in the finale of a 4-day, 5-game series at Pittsburgh.

The Pirates had won the opener on Thursday night, blanking the Cubs for 7 innings and holding on to win, 5-3.

The teams played a traditional daytime doubleheader on the Fourth of July. Cliff Johnson's 2-run homer in the top of the first sparked the Cubs to a 4-2 win in Game 1, then they completed a sweep, 2-1, when pitcher Doug Capilla singled home the tie-breaking run in the fifth and held the Pirates to 2 hits through 7 innings.

On Saturday night, the Cubs erased a 4-0 deficit in the fourth when they erupted for 5 hits in a span of 6 batters. Lenny Randle tripled and scored on a double by Bill Buckner. After a fly out, Jerry Martin singled, Mike Vail doubled home Buckner and Barry Foote's single drove in Martin and Vail.

The Pirates regained the lead in the fifth, on 2 singles and a sacrifice fly, and that ended the scoring.



The Sunday afternoon rubber game of the series matched a pair of veteran right handers, Rick Reuschel (5-8, 3.97 ERA) of the Cubs and Bert Blyleven of the Pirates (2-7, 4.11).

Each yielded a 2-out run in the first inning, as the Cubs got a 2-out single from Martin and Dave Parker homered for the Pirates.

The Cubs regained the lead in the fifth, when Ivan de Jesus led off with a single, took second on a groundout and raced home on a single by Buckner.

But the Pirates pulled even again in the bottom half, on 3 singles by the first 4 batters. A wild pitch put runners on second and third, then Blyleven singled, scoring both.



After the Cubs went down in order in their half of the sixth, Reuschel retired the first 2 Pirates before allowing a single to right field by John Milner. They would not get another hit for a long, long time.

Reuschel walked the next batter, his first walk of the game, then coaxed a groundout to keep the score 4-2.

That was Reuschel's last batter, as he was removed for pinch hitter to start the seventh. In his 6 innings, he gave up 8 hits and struck out 4.

Blyleven fanned the Cubs' pinch hitter, then got 2 fly balls to center.

George Riley, the Cubs' reliever, yielded a 1-out walk, after which Blyleven bunted the runner to second. Riley ended the inning by inducing a tap to the mound.



Buckner homered to open the eighth, making it 4-3 game.

The next 3 Cubs made outs, as did all 3 Pirates against Riley in the bottom.

In the ninth, Blyleven got a fly to center and a fly to left. The only man standing between him and a complete game was Cliff Johnson, pinch hitting for Riley.

Johnson slammed a pitch high over the wall in left for home run.

The teams would play the equivalent of more than a full game before another runner touched the plate.



Bruce Sutter pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the Cubs.

Blyleven did the same in the 10th, his final inning. He gave up 9 hits, walked 1 and struck out 12, but earned no decision, as the Pirates failed to break the deadlock in their half of the 10th.

Dale Berra, leading off, was awarded first base on catcher's interference by Tim Blackwell. Berra was bunted to second, but left there when Sutter recorded a strikeout and a groundout.

Kent Tekulve, the Pirates' closer, came in from the bullpen for the 11th. Mike Vail singled with 1 out and advanced to second on a grounder. After an intentional walk, Steve Dillard batted for Sutter and grounded out.



Doug Capilla, hero of Friday's Game 2, was the Cubs' next pitcher. He faced only 2 batters and walked them both, but the first was thrown out stealing before the second earned a fourth ball.

Dick Tidrow took over and promptly walked the first batter he faced. A fly ball sent the lead runner to third. With Ed Ott at bat, the runner on first stole second. Willie Hernandez was summoned to finish the at bat and struck out Ott, sending the game to the 12th.


The Cubs got a 2-out single from Buckner in that inning. The Pirates went down in order against Hernandez.

With 1 out in the 13th, Vail drew a walk from Rick Rhoden and Blackwell singled. But Mick Kelleher hit into a 6-4-3 double play.

In the bottom half, Hernandez followed a 2-out walk with a called third strike.



Rhoden fanned 2 of the 3 he faced in the 14th. Bill Caudill of the Cubs worked around a 1-out walk.

Neither team put a man on base in the 15th.

Vail opened the 16th with a single off Grand Jackson. Blackwell bunted him to second, then Kelleher smacked a single. But Vail was held at third, and when Caudill struck out, Kelleher was thrown out stealing second to end the inning.

Caudill set down 3 in a row in the bottom of the 16th, then did it again in the 17th.



Jim Bibby had started the series opener for the Pirates, lasting 8.1 innings and earning a win that improved his record to 10-1. In the top of the 18th, he faced the Cubs again, in his first relief appear since Sept. 19 of the previous season.

Bibby recorded an out, then surrendered singles to Martin and Vail before he got Blackwell and Kelleher to pop up.

Caudill struck out the first 2 Pirates in the 18th, giving him 13 consecutive outs. He walked the next batter, who then was caught stealing.



With 2 out in the 19th, Randle singled and stole second. Buckner was walked intentionally, bringing up Dave Kingman. He grounded to second, making him 0 for 9 -- to this day, the only Cub ever to go hitless in 9 at bats in a single game.

Those were all of Kingman's plate appearances, too. He did not have a walk, but he did not strike out, either -- something he had done 131 times a year earlier, to lead both leagues.

There have been 24 other games in which a Cub had 9 at bats. Seven of them made just 1 hit, most recently Ryne Sandberg in 1982.

The last Cub with 9 at bats was Brant Brown, in 1996. He had 5 hits, 2 more than anyone else with 9 AB.



Caudill had been pinch hit for to open the Cubs' 19th, ending his outing at 5 innings, with no hits, 2 walks and 5 strikeouts.

Dennis Lamp became the Cubs' eighth pitcher. He had started the previous day, lasting just 1.2 innings in which he allowed 4 runs on 4 hits.

Lamp's game log for 1980 shows him making 1 earlier appearance in relief, on May 28. That is true statistically, under baseball's bizarre scoring rules, not in reality.

The May 28 game between the Cubs and Expos was suspended in the 11th inning and was not completed until Aug. 8. Lamp pitched the final 2 innings and got the win when Johnson hit a walk-off grand slam in the 14th. All the events of that day, however, are treated as if they had happened on the day the game began.


So the 19th inning on July 6 actually marked Lamp's first game of 1980 as a reliever.

He struck out Milner, the first batter he faced. Then Lee Lacy singled to center, ending the streak of 45 consecutive batters without a hit since Milner's single with 2 out way back in the 6th inning

Moments later, Lacy was caught stealing. A fly to center ended the inning.



When Martin stepped to the plate again, he became the first Cub to bat in the 20th inning of a game since Footsie Blair flied out to end an 8-7 loss to the Cardinals on Aug. 28, 1930 -- nearly half a century earlier.

The Cubs had played only 3 previous games that reached 20 innings: 2-1 wins over the Phillies in 20 innings, in 1905, and 21 innings, in 1918, and a 4-3, 22-inning win over the Braves in 1927.

Since the game at Pittsburgh, the Cubs have played only 1 more: a 2-1 loss to the Dodgers, in 21 innings, that began on Aug. 17, 1982; was suspended in the top of the 18th; and finished the next afternoon.


At Pittsburgh, Martin flied out. Vail grounded back to Bibby, then Blackwell was called out on strikes.

He became the 18th Cub to strike out, tying a team record set in a 15-inning, 3-1 win at Boston in 1952 and tied in a 9-inning, 10-2 loss at home against the Dodgers in 1962. Sandy Koufax struck out all 18 in that game, tying the Major League record for an individual pitcher in a regulation game, set by Bob Feller of Cleveland in 1938.



Through 19 innings, Cubs pitchers had struck out 16 Pirates, 1 short of the team record, achieved in a 15-inning, 4-2 loss to the Cardinals on May 30, 1906. They had recorded 16 in 3 games since then, but never a 17th.

There would be no 17th in this game, either.

Ott led off the Pirates' 20th with a single to deep short. Berra laid down a bunt that was fielded by Lamp, who threw to first as Berra took second. Pinch hitter Willie Stargell was walked intentionally, setting up a possible forceout or double play.

But Omar Moreno foiled the strategy by rapping a clean single to left, Ott raced home and the Pirates won, 5-4, after 5 hours and 31 minutes.



The hit was only Moreno's second in 9 trips to the plate. He was the lone Pirate with 9 PA. He and Ott were the only Pirates with 2 hits, as they finished with 11, in 60 at bats and 73 plate appearances.

The first-inning homer by Parker was their only extra-base hit.

Besides their 16 strikeouts, they had 9 walks. Only the last, to Stargell, was intentional.

They left 10 on base and were 3 for 9 with runners in scoring position.


The Cubs stranded 15 and were 3 for 17 with RISP. They had 2 doubles and 2 homers among their 17 hits. Buckner, Martin and Vail each had 3; de Jesus and Randle, 2.

Vail had 2 walks, the only Cub with more than 1, so he reached base in 5 of his 9 PA. Randle ended the day 2 for 9; de Jesus, 2 for 8; and Blackwell, 1 or 8.

In all, the Cubs were 17 for 72.


They used 15 position players, as did the Pirates. Pittsburgh used 5 pitchers; the Cubs, 8. But only the Cubs' pitchers did not allow a hit to 45 consecutive batters, a record that still stands supreme, by 7 batters, more than 41 years later.



6th: (Rick Reuschel pitching) After 2-out single, walk and groundout = 2 in row

7th: (George Riley) Groundout, walk, bunt, groundout = 6

8th: Fly out, popup, popup = 9

9th: (Bruce Sutter) Strikeout, fly out, strikeout = 12

10th: Catcher's interference, bunt, strikeout, groundout = 16

11th: (Doug Capilla) Walk, caught stealing, walk, (Dick Tidrow) walk, fly out, steal, (Willie Hernandez) strikeout = 21

12th: Groundout, strikeout, strikeout = 24

13th: Fly out, groundout, walk, strikeout = 28

14th: (Bill Caudill) Groundout, walk, strikeout, groundout = 32

15th: Groundout, groundout, popup = 35

16th: Strikeout, fly out, groundout = 38

17th: Fly out, popup, strikeout = 41

18th: Strikeout, strikeout, walk, caught stealing = 44

19th: (Dennis Lamp) Strikeout = 45, then single

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