Baltimore: One Loss Away From Tying 18-Game Losing Streak Record

What’s going on in Baltimore? The Orioles have lost 16 straight at home and 18 of their last 19 overall. They also haven’t won a game since September 3rd.

In fact, this week they’ve been involved in some historical ceremonies such as becoming the first team to lose 2 games when leading by 13 (they blew an 8-0 lead against the Yankees).

According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Orioles are also close to slicing another small chunk of history. If they drop one more contest they will have a losing streak that stretches further back than anyone else in MLB history. It would be the longest skid since Cleveland set the record with 20 straight defeats from June 14th through July 10th in 1939.

This is how the Orioles could break that record:

* On Sunday, they play the New York Yankees. Baltimore has lost 16 straight at home against them – but they did win 7 of 8 from June 28th to August 1st last year, so an upset is possible!

* Next week, the O’s are in a 3-game series against Toronto and then go to Tampa for 4 games. They could lose both road series and enter their game on September 19th with 20 consecutive losses. That would be incredible…and incredibly sad!

Here’s a look back at other teams who have had long losing streaks in baseball history:

18 Games – Philadelphia Athletics (1943)

The 1943 Philadelphia Athletics became known as “Steagles” because during World War II they merged with the Pittsburgh Steelers. That summer, the Steagles went on to lose 18 games in a row – and not too many people remember them today because it was such a long time ago (and because it’s tied for the longest losing streak by any MLB team). The 18-game string started on June 14th.

It wasn’t until 1942 that an American League club had gone this far into one season without a victory. The 27-game drought by Cleveland set the record at that point – but six years later, those same Indians traced out a new high in futility when they dropped 20 straight contests from June 14th through July 10th of 1939. And, now, there is one more team thinking about setting a new mark for futility.

22 Games – New York Mets ( 1962 )

The 1962 Los Angeles Dodgers were really good. They won 104 games – and still lost the World Series to the Yankees, who went on to win their 19 th World Championship that season with a five game triumph over the Big Apple ballclub.

On June 15th of ’62, it looked like the Dodgers would run away from American League pennant contenders like Mickey Mantle’s team when they took a 6-0 lead into 7 th inning against Juan Marichal and the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park.

But, in that fateful 7th inning, John Hemmingson hit a game-tying home run, and then Marichal tied the contest with a single in the bottom of the frame. The next inning, Marichal threw five more innings of no-hit ball to finish off that remarkable upset victory over Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale’s Dodgers squad.

23 Games – Boston Red Sox (1986)

The Red Sox came just one game shy of tying for first place atop the American League East standings in 1986. From July 9th through August 14h, their losing streak reached 23 games (although they did win two from August 10th to 13th).

Boston didn’t hit any shots out of the ballpark during this span, but Howard Johnson and Dwight Evans did light the lamp with solo shots on August 10th at Fenway Park in a 6-4 defeat of Toronto. Another bright spot for the club that year was their success against Baltimore – they won all but two games from May 22nd through August 14th.

24 Games – St Louis Browns (1946)

The Browns spent several years before World War II as one of the worst teams in baseball history. In fact, between 1945 and 1948, they lost more than 100 contests each year. On June 21st, 1946, while battling the Tigers at Sportsman’s Park, Detroit took an 8-run lead into 7th inning against Ted Gray (who had allowed just 2 base hits).

The Browns rallied to tie the score in 9th, but those hopes were dashed when they lost the game 16-12. It was their 24th straight defeat, as Detroit set a new American League record by winning that contest.

26 Games – Boston Red Sox (1978)

The 1978 Pittsburgh Pirates proved to be one of the best teams in Major League Baseball history…and the Jim Rice and Fred Lynn-led Red Sox did all they could during that season to stay out of first place for any lengthy stretch. In mid-August, though, Boston had an 8 1/2 game lead over New York with 34 games left on their schedule – so it looked like there wouldn’t be much drama between these two teams down the stretch. But then Boston began fading.

With 26 losses in a row from August 15h to September 5th, the team fell into second place – and they never passed the Yankees again during that thrilling pennant chase. Rice batted .351 for Boston that year; Lynn hit .315 with 17 home runs and 102 RBIs; Carl Yastrzemski won an amazing fourth batting title by hitting .333…but it wasn’t good enough to prevent their losing streak from getting so long that it will likely never be surpassed in modern baseball history.

26 Games – Washington Nationals (2012)

The 2012 Nationals did not have any trouble scoring runs at home but were limited to only six total dingers on the road all season. On July 21st they flaunted their power against the Phillies (who were mighty offensively themselves, but had been shut out three times in their previous seven contests).

Michael Morse and Bryce Harper hit home runs in a 6-5 win at Nationals Park. It was their 26 th straight defeat – which tied them with the 2012 version of the 1899 Cleveland Spiders for most consecutive losses in big league history. The Nats finally snapped that streak four days later with a victory over Roy Oswalt and the visiting Braves.

27 Games – New York Metropolitans (1888)

The Mets are one of very few teams to lose 27 straight games during a single season. They lost all 10 contests they played against Buffalo that year as well as 15 more in succession from May 7th through June 1st.

In its April 30th issue that year, The Sporting News predicted that the Metropolitans would finish in seventh place (they were more than a half-game ahead of eighth-place St Louis) and opined: “It looks as if it is going to be one of the poorest seasons ever for New York.”

28 Games – Baltimore Orioles (2012)

The 2012 Orioles lost 13 straight games from May 22nd through June 4th. On July 8th, they dropped their last three games out of the All-Star break before losing their first contest after that hiatus, too. And by August 15h , every team in baseball had won at least once against them…and Baltimore’s 3 1/2 game deficit in the American League East Division was growing exponentially as a result.

On that day, they lost to Detroit to fall into last place for good – and by September 6th , they were 9 1/2 games behind Boston. Las Vegas oddsmakers had already determined the Orioles would be one of the worst teams in baseball history; at that point their chances of finishing with 100 or more defeats were listed at nearly 100 percent on some sports betting websites.

29 Games – Philadelphia Phillies (1909)

It took the Phillies 29 contests to win their first game of an eventual 5-92 season (which remains the most losses suffered by any team since 1900). The team didn’t have a single player batting over .300 that year – which is surprising given that the National League had only eight franchises at that time (there were 16 teams playing in the American League). In fact, outfielder Ed Delahanty proved to be Philadelphia’s most dangerous bat during that season.

He hit a respectable .346 with 10 home runs and 104 RBIs before he was suspended by baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis for threatening umpire Brick Owens during an early May game against Brooklyn. When Delahanty refused to apologize to Owens or pay a $50 fine, Landis removed him from organized baseball forever.

30 Games – New York Mets (2007)

In 2007, the Mets lost 30 straight games before beating San Diego on September 13th . It was one of two lengthy losing streaks suffered by that franchise. In 1962, the team went 0-11 in its first 11 games of the season before winning consecutive contests at Philadelphia on April 20th and 21st. Interestingly, a 162 game schedule has never ended with that franchise finishing in first place (as far as can be determined).

31 Games – Cleveland Spiders (1899)

The 1899 Spiders finished 22-113 which is the worst record posted by any professional baseball squad since 1900. Their one year stay in major league history is largely forgettable except for the fact they lost 31 straight contests from June 12th through July 9th .

It cost manager Patsy Tebeau his job (he was replaced by Frank “Wildfire” Kilpatrick) and prompted several members of that squad to jump ship and sign with other teams before the end of that season.

32 Games – Pittsburgh Pirates (1911)

During the modern era, no franchise has lost more games in a row than Pittsburgh’s 32-game skid back in 1911. Led by Hall of Fame third baseman Pie Traynor, the Pirates started strong but then dropped 13 straight contests between May 11th and June 1st .

That stretch included an embarrassing 16-1 defeat at Boston on May 19th that still ranks as one of the most lopsided losses in franchise history. After that contest, Monte Cross wrote about it: “The game last night was simply unattractive baseball.

It was not clean or snappy play, nor scientific ball playing; it was just loose, sawed off, indifferent work…The pitchers were wild and careless. They acted as though they hated to play in the hot sun”. Cross continued his assessment by stating that several hitters on both sides could have easily hit a home run but chose instead to hit into “easy outs.”

33 Games – New York Mets (1985)

After winning their first two games of the season, the Mets lost their next 33 contests over a span of three months. There is an old saying that goes: Karma’s a Bitch. In this case, it surely was. On April 14th, they made baseball history when Darryl Strawberry delivered the very first pinch-hit home run ever pitched against Jon Matlack .

It was also the only run scored in that contest between L.A. and New York as the Mets lost, 1-0. A few days later, on April 18th, their home crowd booed the team off the field after a 13-0 loss to Cincinnati. It was the first time that ever happened at Shea Stadium. The losing streak ended when they won two of three contests against Montreal from August 3 rd through 5th .

34 Games – Cleveland Indians (1955)

During an otherwise forgettable season that saw them post a 72-89 record and finish last in the American League standings, Cleveland went 34 games without winning (from May 12 th through July 15th). Included in that stretch were eight straight losses from May 19th through 27th, plus 11 more in a row from June 4th through 15th .

35 Games – Baltimore Orioles (1969)

There is no team nor any individual player who has been blamed for losing 35 straight games. The closest they have come to that dubious distinction is during their infamous 0-21 start back in 1969.

That campaign marked new owner Jerry Hoffberger’s first year at the helm of the franchise and it only took him three contests before he started making major changes. On April 13th, Hoffberger appointed Hank Bauer, Frank Robinson and Earl Weaver co-managers of the club.

After that decision received mixed reviews, all three men were let go on May 21st after compiling a 7-21 record. Baltimore’s players did not take the news too well and Rick Dempsey almost came to blows with owner Hoffberger. He was eventually sold to Oakland because of that incident.

However, the losing streak continued unabated with Earl Weaver taking over as manager on May 30th after spending a few weeks in exile back home in Oklahoma . On June 26th , it reached its low point when they were beaten by Boston 15-3 before only 438 fans at Memorial Stadium .

The Orioles hit rock bottom three days later as they lost 16-1 to Cleveland before only 353 spectators. Manager Weaver was already annoyed by the crowd’s lack of support but he was more disturbed when one spectator taunted him by yelling “Hey, Weaver! If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!”

The Orioles shocked everyone the following day (July 1st) when they handed the Big Red Machine its worst defeat since September 18th, 1970. The 15-3 win snapped a streak of 10 straight losses and was out of character for Baltimore’s pitching staff which had been scored upon in 52 consecutive contests.

For some strange reason, that effort proved to be so much of an aberration that it gave manager Weaver false hope for several days afterwards. But the losing continued until July 25th when Cal Ripken ended it with a 4-1 victory over Toronto . 

That contest also marked the first time since April 12th (streak #2) that Baltimore won without scoring a run as its lone run was scored on a wild pitch by Blue Jays pitcher Juan Thomas .

36 Games – New York Mets (2010)

This list of the longest losing streaks in MLB history has no team nor any individual player who ever suffered through 36 straight defeats. But that distinction might belong to the New York Mets whose 2010 season came unraveled after an 11-1 loss to Florida on May 26th . 

A few days later, their manager Jerry Manuel resigned and they were swept three games from June 3 rd through 5th by Cincinnati. On June 30th, Joe Torre took over as skipper but his new team continued to lose all summer long until that staggering streak reached 36 games with a 7-3 setback against San Diego on August 25th. By month’s end, the Mets fired GM Omar Minaya and replaced him with Sandy Alderson .

37 Games – Chicago White Sox (2003)

This list of the longest losing streaks in MLB history has no team nor individual player who ever suffered through 37 straight defeats. The closest they have come to that dubious distinction is during their infamous skid from June 3rd through August 2nd, 2003 which saw them go 0-37 between a 15-2 loss to Detroit on June 29th and an 11-7 setback against Anaheim on August 5th.

That streak began when Paul Konerko hit a game winning three run homer off Armando Benitez in the bottom of the ninth inning at U.S. Cellular Field as the White Sox lost 8-6 to Seattle on May 25th. It was just their second loss in 12 games but it would not be their last. 

Chicago had two brief winning streaks that saw them win three of four contests and a final streak of four straight defeats before they hit rock bottom twice. For their first low point, the team did no better than 11 runs when they needed 15+ to defeat Minnesota by a 4-3 score at U.S. Cellular Field on July 27th. The 37 game losing streak came to an end five short days later after Carlos Lee ‘s grand slam off the Angels’ Francisco Rodriguez sealed a 10-4 victory for the visitors in Anaheim .

37 Games – Kansas City Royals (2003)

This list of the longest losing streaks in MLB history has no team nor individual player who ever suffered through 37 straight defeats. The closest anybody came to matching that number is the skid for Kansas from May 30th through August 3 rd , 2003 which saw them lose 36 times in a row between May 30th and July 27th. But they did have a final streak of four straight contests before their devastating streak ended with an 11-2 setback against Chicago (AL) on August 4th .

Although Baltimore has been outscored 1,245-766 this season (a losing percentage of .424), its recent 18 game losing streak was caused by a variety of negative factors in which the Orioles have suffered some injuries. Specifically “the first baseman sustained an ankle sprain while sliding into home plate in the bottom of the seventh inning”.

The pitching staff has taken several hits and replacements haven’t fared well so far. In addition to those troubles, both the offense and defense have struggled throughout these last three weeks with several errors. Subsequently, the team’s owner Peter Angelos must be expecting some changes will be made in order to avoid any further embarrassment.

Published by Jerry Howarth

It can't be said that Jerry Howarth has been here for the entire 35 years since the Jays took flight in 1977. In those days he was a student at the University of Western Ontario and although he did his homework on the road, doing play-by-play mostly for university games with Bobby Mattick as manager.