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Stopping the Streak?

With Tuesday night's loss to the Yankees, the Mariners extended their losing streak to 17 games. That streak is now one of the 13 longest team losing streaks since 1919 (the current retrosheet cutoff). As we have seen in just two games, the Mariners can't seem to do anything right. Still, when I look at the pitching matchup for this afternoon's finale, the struggling Phil Hughes against defending Cy Young award winner Felix Hernandez, I can't help thinking that the Mariners' streak won't make it to 18 games. With that in mind, here's a quick look at how some of the other top losing streaks came to an end.

1961 Phillies - 23 games

The Phillies snapped their streak by winning the nightcap of a double-header against the Braves at Milwaukee's County Stadium. The difference in the game was a four-run eighth inning against Braves relievers Bob Hendley and Don Nottebart. The Phillies didn't exactly light those two up. Their for runs scored on four singles, a walk, and a squeeze bunt by pitcher John Buzhardt, who went the distance in the 7-4 win. Earlier in the game Buzhardt had one of just three extra base hits by the Phillies in the game, but was stranded at third.

1988 Orioles - 21 games

The Orioles opened the 1988 season with 21 straight losses, six under Opening Day manager Cal Ripken Sr., who had led the O's to a sixth-place finish and 95 losses the year before, then 15 more under his replacement, Frank Robinson. When they finally got off the schneid on April 29, they did it in style, with a 9-0 win over the White Sox at old Comiskey. Mark Williamson (six innings) and Dave Schmidt (a three-inning save) combined for the shutout, while rookie Jack McDowell, who had been struggling that month and was making just his ninth major league start, gave up five of the nine Orioles runs. Unsurprisingly, it was Cal Jr. who had the big day at the plate, going 4-for-5 with a double and a ninth-inning home run off Bobby Thigpen, and Eddie Murray who got the scoring started with a two-run home run off McDowell that plated Ripken in the top of the first.

1969 Expos - 20 games

The '69 Expos were an expansion team that would finish with 110 losses. They also happened to share a manager with the 1961 Phillies in Gene Mauch, who is perhaps best remembered for piloting the 1964 Phillies' "Phlop." The Expos also broke their streak on the road, beating the Dodgers 4-3 thanks largely to three fourth inning runs. The key hit in that inning was a two-run home run off Dodgers starter Bill Singer by Le Grand Orange, Rusty Staub, though the difference in the game was a solo shot in the sixth by left fielder Mack Jones off Singer, who had a 2.00 ERA coming into the game and finished the season 20-12 with a 2.34. Staked to a 4-1 lead, the Expos nearly blew the game in the ninth when a pair of singles chased Montreal starter Jerry Robertson. Veteran relief ace Roy Face, who was in his final season at age 41, relieved Robertson and allowed one of those men to score on a Ron Fairly single, loaded the bases with a walk, then balked in another run, but recovered to nail down the win and snap the streak.

1943 Philadelphia Athletics - 20 games

Connie Mack's '43 Athletics snapped their streak in a bizzare game at old Comiskey which the A's won 8-1 with all nine runs being unearned thanks to four White Sox errors and one by the A's. Roger Wolff went the distance for the A's allowing just the one unearned run in the eighth. Meanwhile, the A's exploded for eight runs in the third thanks in part to each member of the A's infield making an error, including Hall of Fame shortstop Luke Appling (I should note that I just assume all four errors came in that inning, play-by-play is not available for this game). Joe Haynes replaced Chicago starter Bill Dietrich after that frame and allowed just one hit and two walks over six scoreless frames, but the damage had been done.

2005 Royals - 19 games

Yankee bench coach Tony Peña was fired as the manager of the '05 Royals after an 8-25 start and a minor adultery scandal, which at least spared him the additional indignity of this streak, which came to an end via a 2-1 game in Oakland. K.C. starter Mike Wood coughed up a run in the third, but the Royals came right back with two off Barry Zito in the top of the fourth, the key hit being an RBI double by Emil Brown. Wood and a quartet of relievers made those two runs stand up and the Royals went on to win four of five before flying to the Bronx and starting another five-game losing streak.

1975 Tigers - 19 games

The '75 Tigers were the only one of the 21 teams long-time Yankee Ralph Houk managed that lost 100 games (102 to be exact). Their losing streak came in the dog days of August, kicked off by a pair of losses to the Yankees. It was halted when Ray Bare shutout the Angels and the Tigers reversed the score of their 8-0 loss to Frank Tanana the night before. Underrated backstop Bill Freehan was the hitting star for Detroit, going 4-for-5 with a double, a triple, and three RBIs. The Tigers got two early runs, then piled on for six more in the final three frames, bouncing Halos starter Chuck Hockenbery and burning through three relievers in the process.

The only thing all six games had in common was that they all came on the road. That's likely just a coincidence, but it's worth noting that the Mariners are on the road as well this afternoon. By dinner time they'll either have broken the streak or will have an off-day to ruminate on it having reached 18 games.