Tiant Has Indians Consecutive Scoreless Innings Streak Set High for Masterson
With his hand clutched around the ball stuffed inside his mitt, Luis Tiant hoisted his arms above his head. He planted his right foot into the mound and pivoted on it so the batter could see the number “23” on his back. Then he flicked his left leg back around and delivered at fastball toward home.
“But Tiant, whom fans in Cleveland lovingly called ‘El Tiante,’ was more than a pitcher,” Justice B. Hill wrote in an article placing Tiant among the 100 Greatest Indians. “He was a performer. He dazzled fans and baffled hitters with a pitching motion as deceptive as any in the history of the game.”
Tiant wasn’t known solely for his delivery, though. He also holds the Tribe’s scoreless inning record—he tossed 41.0 consecutive scoreless innings in 1968.
“He went 21-9 (in 1968) with a flashy 1.60 ERA, a statistic that led the American League,” Hill wrote. “Tiant struck out 264 hitters in 258 1/3 innings.”
That many scoreless innings in a row earned him a place among some of the game’s most iconic names.
Orel Hershiser’s record is 59.0 innings in Los Angeles during the 1988 season is the all-time mark. Cy Young’s record stands at 45.0 innings while he toured with Boston in 1904. In 2012, the Met’s R.A. Dickey came up just short of Young’s record, posting 44.2 innings.
One thing sets Tiant apart from his infamous comrades, though.
While his 41.0 innings are the 19th most ever, Tiant’s name appears beside another number on the list, 40.0, that he posted while with Boston in 1972. He is one of two pitchers (Walter Johnson; 55.2 in 1913, 40.0 in 1918) to have multiple 40.0+ inning scoreless streaks.
The streaks weren’t a fluke, they were a byproduct of his determination.
“It was fun playing behind him,” Indian’s third baseman during the 1960s, Max Alvis, said in the same article. “He’d get on the rubber and throw in a hurry. Everybody was on their toes, because he was always around the plate. He had bulldog competitiveness.”
Tiant’s 19-year career landed him in Cleveland and Boston, most notably, but took him to the pinstripes of New York and a few others before his retirement in 1982. He amassed 229 wins and 172 losses for a total of 573 games. His 3.30 career ERA is supplemented by 49 shutouts and 187 complete games.
Now, another Indian is making headlines with a scoreless streak of his own.
Justin Masterson (3-0, 0.41 ERA) started the 2013 season at a blistering pace. He allowed just one run on 10 hits through his 22 innings pitched. In fact, the last 19 innings Masterson pitched yielded zero runs.
Masterson will look to continue his scoreless streak on Wednesday, April 17 when the Tribe takes on the visiting Red Sox. The game is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.