On Sept. 10, 1988, the Dodgers beat the Reds 5-0 at Dodger Stadium to increase their lead in the National League West to five games over the Astros and 6½ games over Cincinnati with 21 games left to play. Orel Hershiser pitched his second straight shutout to win his 20th game to set a new career high.
With the shutout in the Saturday night game, Hershiser also ran his scoreless streak to 22 consecutive innings. But the streak that was most talked about after the win was Hershiser's five consecutive complete games, per Ross Newhan of the Los Angeles Times:
"He was fantastic," Manager Tom Lasorda said, "but I've seen him pitch with that intensity before. He's become the take-charge guy we depend on. He serves the role Fernando Valenzuela used to serve for us."
Now 80-48 and in the final month of his fifth season with the Dodgers, Hershiser was asked if the complete-game streak represents the best groove of his career.
"You get the label of being the stopper, of being the ace, and it seems like everything has come into focus in the pennant drive," he said. "I don't know if this is the best groove I've ever been in, but it's the most animated, the most energetic I've ever been in. I feel like every pitch is my last pitch."
Hershiser would go on to win the National League Cy Young Award in 1988, unanimously so, but in September it was no sure thing. Just ask Reds manager Pete Rose.
"I'm not taking anything away from Hershiser, but I think it would be a mistake not to vote for Danny Jackson," Rose told Newhan. "Their ERAs and innings pitched are about the same, but Hershiser has more losses, less wins, less complete games and less shutouts."
Jackson beat the Dodgers one day earlier and through Sept. 10 was 21-6 with a 2.43 ERA with 14 complete games, six shutouts, 151 strikeouts and 60 walks in 233⅓ innings.
Hershiser was 20-8 with a 2.62 ERA with 12 complete games, five shutouts, 160 strikeouts and 68 walks in 230 innings.
In shutting out the Reds, Hershiser did allow seven hits and three walks, but struck out eight and got two double plays behind him. The Reds put Barry Larkin in scoring position with one out in the first inning, but Hershiser struck out Kal Daniels and got Eric Davis to fly out to center field to end the threat.
Cincinnati loaded the bases with two outs in the third inning, but Davis struck out on four pitches to end the inning. They had runners on first and third base with one out in the seventh, but Hershiser got Ken Griffey Sr. to fly out and struck out Larkin to end the inning.
Catcher Jeff Reed doubled with two outs in the ninth inning on Hershiser's 105th pitch of the night. But Hershiser struck out Ron Oester to end the game.
|Sept. 10 vs. Reds||9||7||0||0||3||8||0||35||.226/.294/.258|
|Streak to date||22||12||0||0||6||20||0||81||.164/.228/.192|