On April 28, 1985, Los Angeles Dodgers legend Fernando Valenzuela made baseball history by setting an MLB record with 41 consecutive scoreless innings. The southpaw reached the benchmark by keeping the San Diego Padres off the board through eight innings at Dodger Stadium.
However, his streak was snapped in the ninth inning when Tony Gwynn hit a go-ahead home run to lead the Padres to a 1-0 victory. Valenzuela nonetheless went the distance, finishing with 10 strikeouts.
Valenzuela’s streak has since been bested by multiple pitchers, including Orel Hershiser who holds the MLB record with 59 scoreless innings from Aug. 30-Sept. 28, 1988.
Lack of run support had been a consistent theme for Valenzuela through the first month of the 1985 season. He sported a minuscule 0.29 ERA through five starts, but only had a 2-3 record to show for it. Prior to the streak being snapped, opponents had only managed four unearned runs off Valenzuela.
Valenzuela threw four consecutive complete games during that stretch — one was shortened to eight innings — and finished April with three consecutive starts with at least eight strikeouts.
Valenzuela finished the season 17-10 with a 2.45 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 2.95 FIP, 141 ERA+, 14 complete games and five shutouts. The famed left-hander was named to his fifth All-Star Game and also had 208 strikeouts in what was his second of three straight seasons with at least 200 strikeouts.
The Dodgers went 95-67 to finish in first place in the National League West. But they fell to the St. Louis Cardinals in six games in the NL Championship Series.
Valenzuela spent 11 seasons with the Dodgers and during that span became the first player in Major League history to win both the Rookie of the Year Award and the Cy Young in the same season. He took home a Silver Slugger during the historic 1981 season as well, and helped the Dodgers win the World Series.
Valenzuela missed out on their miracle championship run in 1988 due to injuries. He now resides as a broadcaster, in his 18th season covering the Dodgers and sixth with SportsNet LA.
In February 2017 he led an ownership group that purchased Cancun’s Quintana Roo Tigres to keep them in the Mexican Baseball League.
Will Dodgers retire Valenzuela’s jersey number?
The Dodgers’ unofficial policy is retiring a jersey number only for those who are inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, which Valenzuela is not. Though, the team has yet to distribute No. 34 since the left-hander wore it.
Valenzuela recently said he understands the team’s stance, of course wouldn’t be opposed to an exception being made, but also is open to someone potentially wearing No. 34.
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