The Phils Went Where Few Teams Have Gone

Posted: August 14, 1991

The 1927 Yankees never won 13 games in a row. The Big Red Machine never did it, either.

Neither did the Charlie Finley A's or the '54 Indians or any team managed by Billy Martin, Tom Lasorda, Dick Williams or Sparky Anderson.

But somehow, the 1991 Phillies did it.

They may have lost to the Pirates last night to end their magical winning streak at an incredible 13 games. But they still did more than just tie the modern franchise record, set by the great 1977 Phillies.

They accomplished the improbable in this day and age - even in 1991, the streakiest season baseball has ever witnessed.

How rare is it to win 13 games in a row? Probably more than you even realize.

The Phillies are only the third National League team since 1965 to do it. The others were Dale Murphy's '82 Braves, who started a pennant-winning season by going 13-0, and those '77 Phillies. That's it. Since 1965. Wes Chamberlain, Tommy Greene, Mickey Morandini and Dave Hollins weren't even born yet. And Mitch Williams, Jose DeJesus, Charlie Hayes and Ricky Jordan were less than 1 year old.

The Phillies are also just the ninth National League team to have a streak this long in the last 50 years. And nearly half of the teams in their league (five of 12) have never done it.

The record book doesn't recognize your winning streak if you win a piddling 10 or 11 or 12 in a row. But once you win 13, you get listed in a special section of the longest winning streaks in history. These '91 Phillies will be in there forever.

They are in pretty special company, too, because you can find almost no teams in this century like the Phillies - a team that was in last place as recently as Aug. 1 - that ever had a streak like this.

In the last six decades, for example, every National League team that has had a winning streak that long has finished either first or second. Every one of those teams also came home at least 20 games over .500.

Meanwhile, no National League team with a losing record has ever done it. And only one sub-.500 American League team ever has - the 1942 Indians, who finished 75-79.

So when you hear these Phillies talking of how lucky they are to experience something like this, you can appreciate just how fortunate they really are.

They may not have gotten to 14 in a row. But that is not exactly a disgrace, either.

After all, only one National League team (the '65 Giants) has reached 14 straight in the last 40 years. Only two ('65 Giants and the '51 Miracle Giants) have done it since 1936. And only eight have done it since 1916.

On the other hand, it is a little hard to explain that the Phillies could have become the third team in baseball to win that many just this year. (Over in the AL, the Rangers won 14 in a row in May, and the Twins ripped off a 15- game streak in July.)

But you can chalk that up to either aberration or coincidence, because that is not supposed to happen. The only season in history in which three different teams had winning streaks that long was 1906 - which was slightly before ESPN started showing streak highlights every night.

So remember what you saw in those electrifying 13 games. You may never see it again.

AFTER THE STREAK

A look at how recent teams that won 13 or more games in a row fared before and immediately after their streaks, and what their post-streak records were through the end of the season.

GAMES YEAR TEAM BEFORE AFTER RECORD

15 1991 Twins 23-25 Lost 7 of 10 26-19

14 1991 Rangers 11-14 Lost 11 of 12 32-39

14 1988 A's 10-7 Lost 3 80-51

13 1987 Brewers 0-0 Won 7 of 10 78-71

13 1982 Braves 0-0 Lost 5 76-73

16 1977 Royals 75-54 Won 8 of 9 11-6

13 1977 Phillies 59-44 Won 6 39-17

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