Phillies Starting Pitcher Trifecta: Three Games in a Row With Zero Earned Runs

The last three nights have been pretty remarkable for the Phillies' starting pitchers.  Sure, everyone expected a strong outing from Roy Halladay.  But a complete game shut out from any pitcher in this era is remarkable, even from a pitcher of Halladay's stature.  Of course, it was the other two performances that really stand out.  Kyle Kendrick entered Tuesday's game with a 17.47 ERA and proceeded to pitch 8 shutout innings.  Jamie Moyer entered Thursday's game with a 7.50 ERA, having given up a 5-spot in one inning in each of his first two starts.  Yet he pitched 6 strong innings giving up 0 earned runs.  The two unearned runs he allowed were from errors by Chase Utley.

Combined, the three Phillies' starters in the Braves series were awesome.  They pitched a total of 23 innings, allowed only 18 base runners (13 hits, 5 walks), and struck out 13.  For a team with major starting pitching questions, the Braves series was quite a relief.

The question I had this morning was not just what a relief it was, but also how rare it was.  Thanks to the amazing Day by Day Database, I was very easily able to compile and analyze every starting pitching performance by a Phillies pitcher since April 16, 1957.  And the answer to my question is "damn rare."

Since the start of 1957, the Phillies have had, including the just-finished Braves series, just 9 strings of three consecutive games in which the starting pitchers gave up zero earned runs.  They occurred in October 1965, twice in August 1969*, September 1969, August 1983, May 1985, May 2006, September 2009, and now April 2010.  I've included the pitching lines for each of them below the fold so you can see the details if you're interested.

Since I had the spreadsheet compiled, I figured it would also be fun to look for the opposite -- the worst the Phillies' starting pitchers have done over a three game stretch.  Twice in the Phillies history since 1957, their starting pitchers have given up 21 earned runs over three consecutive games.  This happened in May 1981 (Dick Ruthven, Steve Carlton, and Larry Christenson) and August 1989 (Randy O'Neal, Don Carman, and Ken Howell).  I've included those lines below the fold as well.

Finally, you might have wondered why the asterisk after August 1969 in the list two paragraphs above.  The reason is that those two stretches of three consecutive zero earned run games actually were one stretch of four games in a row.  From August 13, 1969, through August 16, 1969, Jerry Johnson, Woodie Fryman, Grant Jackson, and Rick Wise combined for four complete game shutouts in a row.  The combined line from those four was incredible:  36 innings pitched, 20 hits, 10 walks, 18 strikeouts, zero runs, and zero earned runs.

That run was by far the most remarkable run for Phillies starting pitching in the years I looked at.  Although the end of 1965 comes a very close second, with the Phillies pitchers giving up only 1 unearned run over 33 innings in 3 games.  Yes, you read that right -- 33 innings in 3 games.  Jim Bunning and Ray Culp pitched your standard 9 inning complete game, but Chris Short showed them up, throwing 15 shut out innings in the game between them.  Unfortunately for Short and the Phillies, the remarkable second game of the double-header on October 2, 1965, ended in a 0-0 tie after 18 innings, as the Mets' Rob Gardner matched Short's performance, also going 15 shutout innings.  The box score has to be seen to be believed.

What this research means is that Cole Hamels takes the mound tonight against the Diamondbacks with a chance to match the Phillies team record for consecutive games with a starting pitcher giving up zero earned runs.  Can he repeat Rick Wise's feat of August 16, 1969?

 

The Good

Game Date Pitcher Opp. CG IP H R ER BB K
10/02/1965 (1) Jim Bunning At NYN 1 9 2 0 0 1 10
10/02/1965 (2) Chris Short At NYN 0 15 9 0 0 3 18
10/03/1965 (1) Ray Culp At NYN 1 9 4 1 0 1 6

Game Date Pitcher Opp. CG IP H R ER BB K
08/13/1969 (2) Jerry Johnson At ATL 1 9 6 0 0 2 5
8/14/1969 Woodie Fryman At ATL 1 9 5 0 0 2 3
8/15/1969 Grant Jackson Vs. HOU 1 9 5 0 0 3 4
8/16/1969 Rick Wise Vs. HOU 1 9 4 0 0 3 6

Game Date Pitcher Opp. CG IP H R ER BB K
9/2/1969 Bill Champion At SDN 1 9 3 0 0 4 7
9/3/1969 Woodie Fryman At SDN 1 9 5 1 0 1 5
09/05/1969 (1) Grant Jackson At NYN 0 7 4 3 0 3 8

Game Date Pitcher Opp. CG IP H R ER BB K
8/9/1983 John Denny Vs. PIT 0 7 6 1 0 1 10
8/10/1983 Steve Carlton Vs. PIT 0 8 2/3 8 2 0 4 10
8/12/1983 Marty Bystrom Vs. SLN 0 6 3 1 0 4 8

Game Date Pitcher Opp. CG IP H R ER BB K
5/14/1985 Charles Hudson At CIN 0 8 1 0 0 3 5
5/15/1985 Steve Carlton At ATL 0 6 3 0 0 5 3
5/16/1985 Shane Rawley At ATL 0 2 2/3 1 0 0 2 3

Game Date Pitcher Opp. CG IP H R ER BB K
5/11/2006 Gavin Floyd Vs. NYN 1 5 2 0 0 4 2
5/12/2006 Cole Hamels At CIN 0 5 1 0 0 5 7
5/13/2006 Jon Lieber At CIN 0 8 2/3 2 0 0 0 6

Game Date Pitcher Opp. CG IP H R ER BB K
09/13/2009 (2) Pedro Martinez Vs. NYN 0 8 6 0 0 2 7
9/15/2009 Cliff Lee Vs. WSH 1 9 6 0 0 3 9
9/16/2009 Joe Blanton Vs. WSH 0 6 5 0 0 4 7

Game Date Pitcher Opp. CG IP H R ER BB K
4/20/2010 Kyle Kendrick At ATL 0 8 4 0 0 2 2
4/21/2010 Roy Halladay At ATL 1 9 5 0 0 1 7
4/22/2010 Jamie Moyer At ATL 0 6 4 2 0 2 4

The Ugly

Game Date Pitcher Opp. CG IP H R ER BB K
5/8/1981 Dick Ruthven Vs. SDN 0 6 1/3 9 7 7 4 6
5/9/1981 Steve Carlton Vs. SDN 1 9 9 6 6 3 11
5/10/1981 Larry Christenson Vs. SDN 0 6 2/3 12 8 8 4 3

Game Date Pitcher Opp. CG IP H R ER BB K
8/10/1989 Randy O'Neal At CHN 0 2 5 5 5 2 2
8/11/1989 Don Carman At CHN 0 4 1/3 5 7 7 7 5
8/12/1989 Ken Howell At CHN 0 2 5 9 9 6 1
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