The Orioles‘ starting rotation isn’t exactly known for getting deep into games. It seems the same discussion has arisen early in the season for a few years now where there’s hand-wringing about the need for starters to go deeper into games so the bullpen doesn’t get burnt out. Imagine a time then – like, say, this day in Orioles history – when a starter recorded not only back-to-back complete games, but also had shutouts in both of those outings. Dare to dream.
Mike Mussina – I still miss him, even in his retirement – was the most recent Orioles pitcher to have consecutive complete-game shutouts. It happened in 1995, two years after he was the first guy to do it since Jim Palmer in 1982.
That 11-year gap between Palmer and Mussina’s shutout streaks probably seemed like a long one at the time. It is currently 21 years and counting. The last time an O’s pitcher had even a single complete-game shutout was Sept. 3, 2014 when Miguel Gonzalez did it.
Here is some historical context on consecutive complete-game shutouts by Orioles pitchers that I got from digging around in the Baseball Reference Play Index.
*Five O’s pitchers have had three consecutive outings with a complete-game shutout: Jim Palmer in 1978, Tom Phoebus in 1967, Milt Pappas in 1964, Hal Brown in 1961, and Jack Fisher in 1960.
*Palmer had consecutive complete-game shutout streaks on seven different occasions. Before he ruled Twitter, Jim Palmer ruled the mound.
*The first Orioles pitcher to have back-to-back complete-game shutouts was Arnie Portocarrero in 1958. You remember Arnie, right? Me neither. Here’s his SABR bio. In brief, he sounds like an immensely talented guy who was felled by injury. The consecutive complete-game shutouts were part of a brief, post-injury resurgence.
*While I always think of Arthur Rhodes as a reliever, he had consecutive complete-game shutouts for the Orioles in August 1994. Rhodes was another one of my favorites.
*By my count, there have been 25 different occasions when an O’s pitcher has had a streak of two or more complete-game shutouts.
*It’s not a two-game streak, but I have to drop a Chris Waters reference in here. After debuting with eight shoutout innings versus the Angels in 2008, Waters elevated everyone’s hopes once more that season with a complete-game shoutout in September of that same season. Waters blanked the Blue Jays on Sept. 16, 2008. He ended up playing parts of two seasons in the majors totaling 16 games and a dozen starts.