The Orioles’ 14th straight loss in Monday’s Memorial Day matinee against the Minnesota Twins isn’t close to the longest losing streak in modern major league history. It’s not even close to their own franchise record.
Those belong to the 1961 Philadelphia Phillies, who lost 23 games in a row, and the 1988 Orioles, who began the season with an American League-record 21 consecutive losses.
Now that the 2021 Orioles are tied for the second-longest losing streak in franchise history with the inaugural 1954 club, their peers in having lost so many games in a row are dwindling.
In the past 60 years, 12 teams have longer single-season losing streaks than the Orioles:
1961 Philadelphia Phillies – 23 losses
The longest losing streak since 1900 began on July 29 with a 4-3 loss to San Francisco and only got worse from there. The Phillies finished 47-107 (.305), last place in the National League that year, but once their streak finally ended, they won four straight and seven of 11.
1988 Baltimore Orioles – 21 straight losses
The faults of the 1988 Orioles have been well documented. They won on the second-to-last day of April to prevent a winless month, and despite not losing at that clip again for the rest of the season, still didn’t have a month over .500 and finished 54-107 (.335).
1969 Montreal Expos – 20 losses
Gene Mauch managed the 1961 Phillies to their record losing streak and nearly matched it eight years later in Montreal. The Expos were 11-17 on May 10 and didn’t win again until June 8, and of the 20 losses in between, 12 were by three runs or more. They finished 52-110 (.321).
1975 Detroit Tigers – 19 losses
In 1975, the Tigers had a nine-game winning streak that elevated them to 37-46. Later that month, they began a 19-game losing streak. Three more five-game losing streaks after that helped them finish 57-102 (.358).
2005 Kansas City Royals – 19 losses
The longest losing streak of this century began in late-July and ran through most of August, with the Royals getting swept in six straight series before ending the streak with a nail-biter of a 2-1 win against the Oakland Athletics on Aug. 20. They finished 56-106 (.346) and took right-hander Luke Hochevar first overall the next year. He never really panned out.
1977 Atlanta Braves – 17 losses
What began on April 23 for a Braves club that at 8-6 was above .500 ended in farce. After 16 straight losses, Braves owner and entertainment magnate Ted Turner put himself in uniform and managed the team on May 11, a 2-1 loss to Pittsburgh. He was told he wasn’t allowed to manage the team by the league, but maybe the new manager bounce helped. The Braves snapped their streak with a 6-1 win the following afternoon, finishing 61-101 (.377).
1962 New York Mets – 17 losses
The worst team in modern baseball history doesn’t rank as high on this list as one would think, though they got to their 40-120 record by adding in streaks of seven, nine, 11, and 13 along with it.
2011 Seattle Mariners – 17 losses
The first team on this list to avoid a 100-loss season, the 2011 Mariners had just climbed back to .500 at 43-43 on July 5 before they lost the first of their 17 straight. They were probably playing over their heads the first half, as they were 24-47 with a minus-101 run differential after the All-Star break, finishing 67-95 (.414).
2013 Houston Astros – 15 losses
Well into the Astros rebuild that these Orioles are trying to emulate, they were 51-96 with 15 games left in the season and had a chance, however slim, to avoid 100 losses. Instead, they lost every game the rest of the way to finish 51-111 (.315). The first overall pick yielded left-hander Brady Aiken, who they didn’t sign.
1982 New York Mets – 15
One of several appearances for the Mets on this list, this edition of the team won just five times in August as they lost their last 15 games of the month. They finished 65-97 (.401).
1963 New York Mets – 15
With plenty of practice going on long losing streaks from the year before, the 1963 Mets began the year with eight straight losses before dropping 15 straight in late-June into July. They snapped it with a run of three wins in four games before losing 11 straight later in July, finishing 51-111 (.315).
2002 Tampa Bay Rays – 15
The 2002 Rays were treading water at 9-10 in early May before the bottom fell out with 15 straight losses. They also were spared a longer losing streak when a walk-off win on July 13 separated runs of eight straight and seven straight losses. They finished 55-106 (.342).
1972 Texas Rangers – 15
Ted Williams’ club had already done a lot more losing than winning when they lost 15 straight at the end of September to go 3-23 that month — one of the worst calendar months this exercise has revealed. They won two of three in October to make them an even 54-100 (.351).