Friday, July 8, 2011

Acid Flashback Friday: Dave Stieb Throws 7 Straight Complete Games

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Before the ever was the "Summer of George", there was a time when kids actually played outside during the summer. When the combination of hot pants, Kool and the Gang, and the Empire Strikes Back sent everyone into a tizzy.

All those things aside, there was one man who was weaving an impressive streak together that can only be deemed as the "Summer of Stieb".

For this week's Acid Flashback Friday, we take a look back of Dave Stieb's run of seven straight complete games during the summer of 1980.

Much was made last week about Cliff Lee's streak of three consecutive complete game shutouts, and I myself have always been a big fan of complete games, shutouts or otherwise. The fact that Lee strung together 34 consecutive scoreless innings is mind-boggling.

However, a feat of seven straight complete games is also very impressive, and Dave Stieb did just that in the summer of 1980. From June 18th to July 21st, Stieb held a 5-2 record in those seven starts and had a 1.48 ERA. He also held opponents to a .202 batting average.

Dave Stieb did perhaps his best work near to the end of the streak where he pitched back to back complete game shutouts in the road against the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics.

By season's end, Stieb pocketed 14 complete games in the 1980 season, the second highest total in his career. It would only be surpassed by his 1982 season in which he tossed 19 complete games.

With pitchers coddled the way they are now, the complete game has almost become a relic in itself, aside from your perennial workhorses like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia.

I think that makes the "Summer of Stieb" all that more impressive. 1980 was a much different time for baseball and starting pitchers were likely expected to go the distance every time they took the mound, but that doesn't take away from seven straight complete games.

Thanks to @TheGoldenYear for this week's Acid Flashback Friday suggestion. If you have anything you'd like to see from Blue Jays yesteryear, please send your suggestion to bluejayhunter@gmail.com

2 comments:

  1. Nice piece, BJH.

    Mattick must've had a heart attack when the streak finally ended: Stieb pulled during the fifth in the first game of a doubleheader. You never see it coming, do you?

    The Jays blogosphere's suggested Stieb was overused in his formative years. Certainly it's a season of two halves if you split it after the last of the seven CGs: 10-6, 2.51, versus 2-9, 5.54. The SLG really stands out, too: .278 versus .470.

    It really was the Summer of Stieb: on August 29th, he played an inning in left (and flew out to CF in a rare at bat) as the Jays wrapped a 15-inning marathon carried over from the previous night, and then threw 8.2IP in that day's regularly scheduled game.

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  2. Leonard, the streak was bound to come to an end eventually, but I bet Stieb was kicking and screaming to stay in during that game.

    I'd say I belong to the camp that says that Stieb's innings were a little high, but I understand baseball was much different back then. Pitchers were encouraged and expected to go deep into games. That being said, I'd give the ball to Stieb any day of the week ... and twice on Sundays.

    And that short stint in the outfield is just another reason to appreciate all that Stieb did. Almost throwing a complete game the night before, and then he's back in the outfield at taking an at bat the next day. The true definition of a workhorse.

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