FanPost

1920 Cubs were streakiest of them all

Every big league team, no matter its final record, inevitably enjoys several winning streaks and suffers through multiple losing streaks.

So far this year, 2 teams have won consecutive 14 games and 1 has lost 14 in a row.

There have been 181 streaks of at least 3 straight wins,5 of them by the Cubs, and 182 of at least 3 losses, 9 by the Cubs.

The 103-win Cubs of 2016 had 16 streaks of 3 to 10 wins, and 4 runs of at least 3 losses.

Last year's 91-loss Cubs had 8 winning streaks and 12 losing streaks.

But the streakiest Cubs team, hands down, was in 1920.

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FALL FROM GRACE

After winning the pennant in 1918 with a record of 84-45-2, the Cubs finished 75-65 in 1919 and came in a distant third, 21 games out of first.

Their pitching staff led the league in ERA, at 2.21, and in strikeouts; gave up the fewest homers (14), had the second-most shutouts (21) and the second-fewest runs (407).

But their batters ranked last in runs (454) and next-to-last in hits and walks, with the second-most strikeouts.

So while 3 of the 4 starting pitchers returned in 1920 -- Grover Cleveland Alexander, Claude Hendrix and Hippo Vaughn -- there were 3 newcomers among the position players on Opening Day.

As the season progressed, there would be more changes, with the Cubs ultimately using 18 position players and 13 pitchers -- both high numbers of the era.

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BEATEN IN OPENER

In the first game of the year, at Cincinnati on April 14, Alexander got the first out, then gave up a walk, a double and a 3-run homer.

The Cubs battled back to tie the score at 3 in the fifth, when Alexander tripled home a run.

But in the sixth Alexander surrendered a 2-out RBI single to Reds pitcher Dutch Reuther, then 3 more runs in the seventh, and the Cubs lost, 7-3.

They lost the next game, too, and the one after that, making them 0-3 and setting the tone for the season to come.

By the time it ended, the Cubs would win or lose at least 3 games in a row an incredible 25 times. They would have only 9 spans in which they neither won nor lost 3 straight games. None of the first 6 spans was longer than 4 games, and the longest, 7 games, closed out the season.

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EXTRA EFFORT

A loss in the opener of a series at St. Louis left the Cubs 0-4. The next day, they led, 5-1, after 2 innings, only to fall behind, 6-5, after 6.

They tied the score in the seventh.

In the ninth, the Cardinals loaded the bases with 1 out, but Vaughn got the next 2 batters to send the game into extra innings. He singled home the go-ahead run with 2 out in the 12th, a double drove in 2 more and the Cubs finally won their first game, 9-6.

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HOME DEBUT

After losing the rubber game at St. Louis, they headed for Chicago, where they hosted the Reds in their home opener.

With 10,000 looking on, Alexander gave up 2 runs in the first, then his leadoff single in the seventh ignited a 2-run rally that made the score 3-3.

It stayed that way until the 11th. With 2 out, Buck Herzog. Turner Barber, up next, walloped a ball off the top of the wall in right field, enabling Herzog to race home with the winning run.

...

The Cubs promptly lost 3 in a row, the last in 15 innings (streak No. 2). After back-to-back rainouts, they won 2 and were rained out again, to end April at 4-8, in last place.

A loss on May 1 was followed by 3 wins (No. 3), 3 losses (No. 4).

Then came 3 wins over the Pirates, the third beginning a long home stand. Following 2 days off and 2 days of rain, the Cubs beat the Robins (today's Dodgers) once and swept 3 from the Braves, giving them 7 wins in a row (No. 5) and a winning record for the first time, 14-12.

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1 OUT AWAY

On May 18, the Cubs led the Giants, 4-2, with 2 out and nobody on base in the top of the ninth. A single, a double and a single quickly tied the score.

After the Cubs were retired in their half, the Giants tallied 2 more in the 10th. The Cubs came back with 2 of their own and had the bases loaded with nobody out.

But they could not score again, the Giants produced 2 again in the 12th, and the 7-game streak game to an end, 8-6.

The Giants won the next day as well. The Cubs took the third game of the series; the Giants, the fourth and last.

As New York left town, the Cubs were 15-15 and in fourth place, 3 games out of first.

And now the streaking began in earnest.

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BIGGEST SWING EVER

Beginning May 22, the Cubs won 9 games in a row (No. 6): 4 each against the Phillies and Cardinals and 1 against the Reds. They scored 15 runs in the first game of the streak and at least 6 in each of the next 7. They allowed more than 2 runs only twice, as they outscored their opponents, 68-23.

The fifth win, on May 28, boosted the Cubs into first place by half a game.

They kept the streak alive in the morning game of a Memorial Day doubleheader, beating the Reds, 3-2, on a homer by Alexander in the 10th inning.

...

Cincinnati ended the streak in the afternoon game, 4-2. The Reds won the next 2 games, too, knocking the Cubs out of first.

Two days later, they began a road trip with a loss at St. Louis. They dropped 2 more there, then 4 at Philadelphia, the third in 11 innings, 9-8.

So, after winning 9 in a row, the Cubs had lost 10 (No. 7), during which they scored more than 3 runs only 3 times and gave up at least 5 in 8 games. They were outscored, 30-60.

Never, before or since, have the Cubs had such long, back-to-back winning or losing streaks.

...

The 10th loss, on June 11, dropped the Cubs below .500, at 24-25. They promptly won their next 6 (No. 8): 3 at Boston, 2 at Brooklyn and 1 at New York.

And then they lost 2 at New York, 2 at Pittsburgh and a Sunday game at home to the Pirates, for 5 straight defeats (No. 9).

On May 21, the Cubs had been 15-15.

On June 27, they were 30-30.

They had won 9 in a row, lost 10, won 6 and lost 5.

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UP, DOWN, UP, DOWN

The Cubs played consecutive doubleheaders against the Pirates on June 28-29. They swept the first before losing Game 1 of the second in 11 innings.

Then they won the second game and notched a 1-0 victory the next day, to win the 6-game series 4-2 and end June at 34-31, in second, 3 games behind.

Another 1-0 win, at Cincinnati on July 1, gave the Cubs 3 straight wins (No. 10). An 11-inning loss the next day was followed by 4 more (No. 11), leaving their record at 35-36.

Four wins (No. 12) made it 39-36.

Four losses (No. 13) made it 39-40 and dropped them to fifth place, 7.5 games to rear.

...

The Cubs snapped their latest losing streak on July 13 by nipping the Robins, 3-2.

They lost by the same score the next day, then by 1-4, 3-4 (10 innings), 2-3 (11) and 0-1, for 5 straight defeats (No. 14) that relegated them to sixth place, 11.5 games behind, at 40-45.

After 3 wins in a row over the Braves (No. 15), the Cubs lost, won and lost to the Phillies.

Then they beat the Phillies twice to conclude a home stand and began a road trip with a win at Boston: 3 in a row again (No. 16).

Four more games against the Braves ended in a loss, a win and 2 losses.

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6 STREAKS IN AUGUST

On the last day of July, the Cubs won at Philadelphia. They won their next 2 games there as well, and the 3 straight wins (No. 17) gave them a winning record once more, at 51-50.

Four losses in 3 days (No. 18), a win, and 3 more losses (No. 19) dropped them 5 games below .500, at 52-57.

The Cubs concluded their 18-game road trip with a pair of wins at Brooklyn, then returned home and posted back-to-back shutouts of the Reds, 5-0 and 1-0, for 4 straight triumphs (No. 20).

...

They lost the next 2 to Cincinnati, avoided a third straight defeat with a win over the Giants, then lost twice to New York.

Next came a sweep of the Braves (No. 21), 2 losses to the Robins, 2 wins over the Robins and 1 over the Phillies (No. 22).

A loss to the Phillies ended the 3-game streak and the month of August. At 63-64, the Cubs were fifth, 8 games out of first.

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RARE INTERLUDE

The Cubs neither won nor lost 3 in a row during their first 7 games of September. They split the first 6, then won at New York to even their record at 67-67.

They lost a game at New York, then 3 times at Brooklyn (No. 23). A win and a loss to the Robins were followed by 3 straight wins at Philadelphia (No. 24).

On Sept. 20, the Cubs won Game 1 of a doubleheader at Boston. Their fourth win in a row lifted them to .500 once more, 72-72.

But they lost Game 2, then the 2 games that followed (No. 25) and never reached .500 again.

They won their final 2 road games, a doubleheader at Cincinnati on Sept. 25, only to lose twice to the Cardinals at home.

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MARATHON FINAL WIN

When the teams met again on Friday, Oct. 1, Alexander gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead with a 2-out hit in the fifth.

St. Louis pulled even in the eighth.

Then the game turned into a stalemate, for inning after inning.

Alexander escaped bases-loaded jams in the 10th and 11th, the latter with nobody out.

He stranded runners at second and third in the 16th.

The Cubs meanwhile had only one runner reach second base -- and he was thrown out at third, as he tried to advance on a wild throw when he stole second.

But their first batter in the 17th singled and went to third on a 1-out hit. After an intentional walk, another single earned the Cubs a 3-2 victory.

...

Alexander faced 69 batters, allowing 16 hits, walking 3 and striking out 8, for a Game Score of 94.

Loser Jesse Haines had a score of 97, yet still suffered his 20th loss against 13 wins. He gave up 10 hits, walked 4 and struck out 8.

Alexander's win capped a spectacular, 27-14 season. He led the league in ERA (1.91) and both leagues in complete games (33), innings (363.1) and strikeouts (173).

...

Without that 17-inning win, the Cubs might have had a 26th streak, of 5 losses, as they closed out the season by falling to the Cardinals, 4-1, and the Pirates, 4-3.

Their final record, 75-79, left the Cubs tied for fifth with the Cardinals, 18 games behind the champion Robins, 4 behind the fourth-place Pirates and 12 ahead of the seventh-place Braves.

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BREAKDOWN OF STREAKS

The 1920 Cubs had 13 streaks of at least 3 straight wins:

3-0: 7 streaks

4-0: 3

6-0: 1

7-0: 1

9-0: 1

They had 12 streaks of at least 3 straight losses:

0-3: 4 streaks

0-4: 4

0-5: 3

0-10: 1

In the winning streaks, they were 49-0; in the losing streaks, 0-52.

That is a total of 101 games, or 66 percent of all 154 that they played.

....

They also had back-to-back wins, bracketed by losses, 5 times, and back-to-back losses, bracketed by wins, 5 times.

Add those 2-game "streaks" and their total rises to 38: 18 in which they were 59-0 and 20 in which they were 0-68.

Those 127 games were 82 percent of all 154.

...

And in all those games, the 1920 Cubs had only 2 wins that were preceded or followed by a single loss.

They had just 1 loss that was preceded or followed by a single win: on April 20, in their 6th game of the year, between their first win at St. Louis and their victorious home opener against the Reds.

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