The Dodgers find themselves in a rare position for 2017 on Wednesday night, facing the Diamondbacks in the middle game of a series at Chase Field in Phoenix. The team with the best record in baseball needs a win to avoid its first four-game losing streak of the season.
As the Dodgers progressed at a breakneck pace over nearly three months, they set themselves up in position to challenge the all-time MLB wins record of 116, set by the 1906 Cubs and 2001 Mariners. After Friday’s win against the Brewers, the Dodgers were 91-36, on pace for 116 victories. Three games later, at 91-39, the pace is down to 113.
That’s how difficult such a record is. There is almost no room for any kind of a slip up.
It’s why the Dodgers’ 56-11 (.836) stretch from June 7 to Aug. 25 was something truly to behold.
That said, maxing out at three straight losses — something the Dodgers have done four different times this season (also from Apr. 16-18, May 14-16, June 4-6) is still incredible, especially if the Dodgers can keep it up over these final 32 games of the regular season.
Six times in franchise history the Dodgers have won 100 or more games. All those teams suffered losing streaks of some kind:
- 1899 Brooklyn (101-47): 8-game losing streak, three other 3-game streaks
- 1941 Brooklyn (100-54): 6-game streak, four 3-game streaks
- 1942 Brooklyn (104-50): 5-game streak, 4-game streak, two 3-game streaks
- 1953 Brooklyn (105-49): Three 4-game streaks, two 3-game streaks
- 1962 Los Angeles (102-63): Two 5-game streaks, five 3-game streaks
- 1974 Los Angeles (102-60): 6-game streak, six 3-game streaks
Losing streaks happen in baseball, even for great teams.
Here are the losing streaks for the other five division leaders in MLB this season:
- Nationals (80-51): Two 4-game streaks, two 3-game streaks
- Astros (79-52): 5-game streak, four 3-game streaks
- Red Sox (75-57): Two 4-game streaks, 3-game streak
- Indians (74-56): 4-game streak, six 3-game streaks
- Cubs (71-60): 6-game streak, three 4-game streaks, 3-game streak
Dodgers have lost 3 straight games, matching their season-long streak. They're the only MLB team without a 4-game losing streak this year.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 30, 2017
If the Dodgers can win on Wednesday, then avoid a losing streak of longer than three games the rest of the season, they will join select company in franchise history.
In the 134-year history of the team, dating back to 1884 when Brooklyn joined the American Association, only two Dodgers teams never lost more than three games in a row — the 1988 team, and 2014.
That 1988 team was fairly memorable -- perhaps you have heard or read a thing or two about them — and during the regular season had the baseball equivalent of “bend but don’t break” when it came to losing streaks. They lost three games in a row 10 different times, but never more than that. Orel Hershiser started four times after a three-game skid that year, though just once during his record 59-inning* scoreless streak.
*67 innings if you count Game 1 of the NLCS.
In 2014, the Dodgers were methodical, never dipping below .500 in any month, and had just three losing streaks that lasted three games, never more. They charged to 94 wins, which is the most of the club’s four-year division-winning streak.
A win total that will be eclipsed by this year’s club. Maybe even by this weekend.
The previous three times the 2017 Dodgers lost three straight games, Clayton Kershaw started the next game. He went seven innings in each game, allowing three total runs with 29 strikeouts and four walks, and all three streaks were vanquished.
Kershaw is not on tap to return until Friday in San Diego, but the Dodgers send Hyun-jin Ryu to the mound on Wednesday night. He, and Thursday starter Kenta Maeda have been very good for quite a while now.
The Dodgers have won Ryu’s last six starts and nine of his last 10.
Time: 6:40 p.m. PT
TV: SportsNet LA, MLB Network