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04/05/08 12:59 AM ET
Rangers strangers to complete games
Team sets AL mark with 195th straight effort of less than nine
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- The Rangers, despite seven scoreless innings from Kason Gabbard, made American League history against the Los Angels Angels of Anaheim on Friday at Angel Stadium. Gabbard left the game with an 11-0 lead after pitching seven innings and the Rangers have now gone 195 games without a complete game. That's the longest streak in league history. They went into the game tied with the Tampa Bay Rays and haven't had one of their pitchers throw an official complete game since Kevin Millwood went the distance against the Orioles on Aug. 29, 2006. Millwood came the closest when he threw 115 pitches over 8 2/3 innings in a 4-2 loss to the Mariners on Aug. 24, 2007, at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. That was one of four times that a Rangers starter has gone at least eight innings in the last 194 games. Millwood did it twice and Kameron Loe did it once. "Last year we had so many guys hurt throughout the season," Millwood said. "When pitchers get hurt, that takes your pitch counts down. The other thing is we didn't pitch well." Having a pitching staff that racks up complete games isn't exactly a prerequisite for success. While the Rangers don't have a complete game since Aug. 29, 2006, the Yankees, Tigers and Braves have only barely done better. All three teams have had just one complete game during the Rangers' drought. The Nationals are even worse. They have gone 210 straight games without a complete game after Friday's game. They hold the Major League record. The Blue Jays have had 12 complete games since Aug. 29, 2006, the Indians 11 and the White Sox 10. Individually, four pitchers have had more than three complete games: Roy Halladay (7), Brandon Webb (6), C.C. Sabathia (5) and Aaron Harang (4). "It doesn't bother me," pitching coach Mark Connor said. "I'm not concerned about it. I'm concerned about quality innings and quality starts. The good thing about a complete game is that after a couple of blowouts, it gives the bullpen a rest. But if you're getting quality innings out of your starters, it's not a concern." Complete games by Rangers pitchers have grown rare since their last division title in 1999. Since the start of the 2000 season, Rangers pitchers have just 25 complete games, fewest in the Majors in that stretch. Five Major League pitchers match or exceed that: Livan Hernandez (32), Randy Johnson (30), Roy Halladay (29), Curt Schilling (26) and Mark Mulder (25). The Rangers' individual club record for one season is 29, set by Ferguson Jenkins in 1974. They haven't had a pitcher with at least 10 complete games since Kevin Brown had 12 in 1993. "There's been a lot of rule changes [like the designated hitter], and the strike zone has gotten smaller," Millwood said. "I'm not saying it was easy to pitch before. It's never been easy. But I don't think it's gotten any easier. Plus, teams are a lot more cautious, and the biggest reason is the salaries. They put so much money into a pitcher, they don't want him to get hurt."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.