The Yankees blew into the Windy City like a cyclone and swept the fading White Sox in Chicago for the first time since 1976. During the four games, the Bronx Bombers outscored the White Sox 34-11, but what made the series even more remarkable was the Yankees did not walk a single batter, making them only the third team (joining the 1905 and 1968 Boston Red Sox) since 1901 to record a four game sweep without issuing a free pass.
Even without limiting the criteria to a single series, going four straight games without issuing a walk is still an extremely rare event for a major league pitching staff. Since 1919, only 13 teams have accomplished the feat, and only two teams were able to carry the streak forward (over the same span, 16 teams have thrown four or more consecutive shutouts).
Most Consecutive Games without Issuing a Walk, Since 1919
The last batter walked by the Yankees was Nick Markakis, who worked a free pass off Freddy Garcia during Sunday’s game against the Orioles. Since then, the team has reeled off 42 1/3 consecutive innings without surrendering a walk. Although impressive, neither total comes close to the top marks since 1919, both of which belong to the 2002 Yankees.
From September 5 to September 10, 2002, pinstripe pitchers went six consecutive games and 65 2/3 straight innings without permitting a free base runner. The streak was finally snapped on September 11, the first anniversary of the horrific terrorist attacks that claimed the World Trade Center. Needless to say, at that time, there wasn’t much attention paid to the accomplishment.
Orlando Hernandez was on the mound when a walk to Chris Richard in the eighth inning of the 9/11 game against Baltimore finally snapped the streak. However, El Duque never actually threw a fourth ball. Instead, with a full count on Richard, home plate umpire Angel Hernandez charged Orlando Hernandez with an automatic ball after the right hander touched his mouth on the mound. Interestingly, the Yankees second walk in that game was an intentional base on balls issued by Steve Karsay, so, not until two days later (against the White Sox, no less), did a Yankee pitcher finally throw an involuntary fourth ball. Had it not been for an umpire’s eagle eye and an intentional walk, the streak would have grown to 78 2/3 innings. Either way, the Yankees have an uphill battle if they want to match the 2006 team’s record, especially with the patient Red Sox next up on the schedule.
Most Consecutive Games without Drawing a Walk, Since 1919
We’ve considered the streak from the Yankees’ perspective, but what about the White Sox’ point of view? It would be an understatement to say that Ozzie Guillen’s lineup has shown a preference for putting the ball in play. Not only does Chicago have fewer walks than every American League team but the Twins, but the south siders trail the league-leading Yankees by over 100 free passes. What’s more, over the four games, White Sox batters only worked eight separate three ball counts, including three-in-a-row to start the second inning against AJ Burnett on Wednesday. In contrast, the Yankees had 33 three-ball counts.
The 2011 White Sox are now the 15th team since 1919 to go four straight games without drawing a walk, a record for one season; the Phillies went seven games from the end of 1919 to the beginning of 1920. If Chicago approaches the Phillies’ mark, Guillen may take a walk before his team finally does. Then again, among players with at least 7,000 plate appearances, no one drew fewer bases on balls than Ozzie, so maybe, just maybe, the White Sox’ lack of patience is all part of his master plan.
Fewest Walks in at Least 7,000 PAs