Saturday May 23rd, 2015

The Dodgers still sit atop the NL West standings, but on Friday night, they matched a franchise record for futility. By not scoring in the first four innings of what was ultimately a 2–1 win over the Padres, they ran their streak of consecutive scoreless innings to 35, tying their longest stretch of zeroes since the team moved to Los Angeles before the 1958 season. The streak, which ended when they scored in the fifth, was the longest in the majors since June 2013, when the Marlins went 37 innings without scoring; that streak was the longest since 1985. 

Prior to the Andre Ethier double off Andrew Cashner that brought Justin Turner home to break—what else?—a scoreless tie, the last time the Dodgers had scored was on Sunday, back in an era when Mad Men and The Late Show With David Letterman were still going concerns.* That run, via Yasmani Grandal's fourth-inning RBI single, proved the difference in the team's 1–0 win over the Rockies in Los Angeles. The Dodgers went 0-for-San Francisco during a three-game midweek series at AT&T Park, losing by scores of 2–0, 4–0 and 4–0 before returning home to face the Padres. Cashner and Zack Greinke matched zeroes for 4 1/2 innings before the Dodgers got on the board. They could not hold the lead, as the Padres equalized in the seventh inning, but Joc Pederson’s solo homer in the eighth sent them to victory.

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In terms of franchise history, the scoreless streak tied a 35-inning one from September 28 to October 2, 1962. That drought encompassed parts of five games, four of them losses, the first three of which eroded a 1 1/2 game lead and left them tied with the Giants at the end of the 162-game regular season. The tie forced a three-game playoff, which began with their being shut out in the opener. They trailed 5–0 through 5 1/2 innings in the second game before erupting for seven runs and winning 8–7 on a walk-off sacrifice fly, but they ultimately lost the series and the pennant.

Here are the five longest scoreless streaks in L.A. Dodgers history:

 
date innings
May 17-22, 2015 35
Sept. 28-Oct. 2, 1962 35
Aug. 15-18, 1961 34
June 24-28, 2012 33
Aug. 11-15, 1967 31

Including the two bookend one-run games, this edition of the Dodgers has hit a combined .184/.263/.243 across its last five games. The Dodgers have faced some good pitchers in that span, though the scoreless streak began against the Rockies' Kyle Kendrick, whose one run allowed in seven innings lowered his ERA to 6.70. In San Francisco, they were blanked by starters Tim Hudson (who finished with a 4.57 ERA), Tim Lincecum (2.08) and Madison Bumgarner (2.84), as well as the Giants’ bullpen (2.85 collectively) before facing Cashner (2.89).During their time in Brooklyn, which began in 1884 as part of the American Association (they joined the NL in 1890), the Dodgers produced at least one longer streak. From June 29 to July 1, 1937, they went scoreless for 36 innings, a streak that included a 12-inning game and both ends of a doubleheader. That’s their longest stretch dating back to 1914, the earliest bound of the Baseball-Reference.com Play Index.

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One can't accurately pin their lack of offense on the losses of Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig, since both have been out since late April; the team began May by winning 11 out of 16 before the recent slump. L.A. came into Friday ranked third in the league in scoring at 4.65 runs per game, and first in homers (54), on-base percentage (.345) and slugging percentage (.455).

The good news for the Dodgers is that by scoring, they avoided joining the dubious company of the eight teams that were shut out in four straight games since the start of the 1914 season. The last such team to do so was the Cubs, from April 27 to May 1, 1992. The last team prior to the Dodgers to be blanked in three straight games in the same season was the Rays, from June 6-8, 2014; the Twins had a three-game stretch that included the final game of the 2014 season on September 28, plus the first two games of this season on April 6 and 8.

At 25–16, the Dodgers still lead the NL West by 1 1/2 games over the Giants.

*h/t to Eric Enders (@nrbates) for borrowing that one.

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