From June 4th to June 25th, Joel Hanrahan went through a stretch of facing 30 batters without surrendering a hit. After allowing an RBI single to Placido Polanco in a June 4th game the Pirates won handily, Hanrahan went 9.2 innings and 3 calendar weeks pitching no-hit baseball. He allowed just 1 walk in those 9.2 innings and struck out 8. Dustin Pedroia broke up the streak with a 2-out double in the Pirates Saturday night win against the Red Sox, so we can now get a closing look at this magnificent stretch. Let's check it out, batter-by-batter:

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That's 30 batters faced and 29 retired. His lone blip was a walk to Mark Reynolds on June 20th in a game the Pirates had basically already lost anyways. This isn't going to get any national recognition, but I think this is a pretty big deal. He got 29 straight outs without allowing a hit, if he did that all in one game, his name would be in the hall of fame. Obviously, it's a lot easier to do when you have days of rest between innings, but this just doesn't happen. He's not doing it against cupcake hitters either, look at the names on that list.

In 2007, Bobby Jenks retired 41 straight batters in a row, which was a major league record for a reliever. In 2009, Mark Buehrle broke that record for any pitcher, by retiring 45 straight batters. Unfortunately, the walk held Hanrahan's name out of that discussion, and you can end it entirely now that he has allowed a hit, but the spectacularity of the streak still remains.

Hanrahan took the mound 10 times in a row without allowing a hit, and recorded 8 saves in those 10 appearances. He is currently the only closer in baseball with double-digit saves that has not blown a save. His ERA is among the best in baseball and there is very little argument that he has been the best reliever in the National League this year, if not all of baseball.

If Hanrahan would have performed this streak all in one game, I certainly wouldn't be the only one writing about it. But a couple more weeks like this and Hanrahan will be the closer for the National League All-Star team, and people won't have a choice but to write about him.

Posted in Pittsburgh Pirates

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