Sep 12, 2013, 4:13 PM PST
Right now, the Tampa Bay Rays pitching staff leads Major League Baseball with eight complete games. In 1980, Oakland Athletics pitcher Rick Langford went the distance 28 times.
On this day in 1980, Langford, a right-handed pitcher, tossed his 22nd consecutive complete game for the A’s to defeat the Kansas City Royals 9-5. Langford’s complete game streak dated back to May 23, 1980. You’d have to count all of the complete games the A’s threw from 2009 to the present to get to 22.
Langford’s streak is one of the most overlooked achievements in baseball history. Earlier this season, ESPN’s Doug Williams put together an excellent feature detailing Langford’s exceptional feat.
Since 2000, only two pitchers have had 10 or more complete games in a season. Not since 1986 has a pitcher completed 20 games, when the Dodgers’ Fernando Valenzuela did it. And the last pitcher to throw more complete games in a season was Catfish Hunter of the Yankees with 30 in 1975. The last consecutive-games streak longer than Langford’s was by Hall of Famer Robin Roberts, who completed 28 straight — eight to close out the 1952 season and 20 to start 1953.
Langford finished the 1980 season 19-12 with a 3.26 ERA. He threw 290 innings. That same season, Mike Norris threw 24 complete games and Matt Keough went the distance 20 times for the A’s.
With the way front offices now obsess over pitch counts and innings limits, Langford’s streak will probably never be repeated.
This Week in Bay Area Sports History:
9/13/1965 – Willie Mays hit his 500th HR as the Giants won their 11th straight game.
9/13/1969 – Bobby Bonds became baseball’s fourth 30/30 player.
9/13/1983 – Rickey Henderson stole his 100th base for the third consecutive season.
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