Not many people expected the Diamondbacks to hand Jake Arrieta a loss.
Arizona handed Arrieta his first loss in 20 decisions yesterday at Wrigley Field as they beat the Cubs, 3-2. The loss was Arrieta’s first since July 26 of last season, marking the end of the third-longest streak of consecutive winning decisions in the last century.
Many were shocked to see that the Diamondbacks, of all teams, were the ones to hand Arrieta the L. But perhaps everyone should have been less surprised– this isn’t the first time they’ve ended a pitcher’s historic streak.
The Diamondbacks also ended former Dodgers closer Eric Gagne’s record-setting streak of 84 consecutive save chances converted on July 5, 2004. At the time, Gagne was the game’s most dominant closer– even more so than Mariano Rivera– and had won the Cy Young award in the previous year with a 1.27 ERA. Gagne had a 1.54 ERA going into the game, which was at Dodger Stadium, and was given a 5-3 lead against a team that went on to lose 111 games that year. That’s a gimmie if there ever was one.
But the Diamondbacks didn’t get the memo. After Gagne struck out Scott Hairston to lead off the inning, Shea Hillenbrand got on with a single. Luis Gonzalez then came up as a pinch-hitter and ripped a double to deep right to bring home Hillenbrand. Chad Tracy followed that double up with an RBI single to tie the game.
The Dodgers went on to win the game in the following inning, but Gagne’s streak was history that night. He had not blown a save since August 22, 2002– that one also came against the Diamondbacks.
Gagne’s streak was one of the most dominant streaks in the history of the game. It blew the previous record of 54 set by Tom Gordon in 1999 out of the water, and established Gagne as the most dominant closer in the game for a very short period in time. Much like Arrieta’s streak this year, there weren’t too many people expecting the Diamondbacks to end that one.