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Longest win streaks to begin a season

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The Rays (12-0) remain unbeaten.

How long might they hold on? For that, we’ll take a look into the past.

AL/NL history has seen two teams jump out to 13-0 starts — see below to find out who — but it hasn’t happened in more than 35 years. Recently, a long winning streak to start the season has been even harder to come by.

Here’s a look at the longest winning streaks to start a season — in the past 10 years, in the Wild Card era (since 1995) and in the modern era (since 1900).

Longest season-opening win streaks, last 10 seasons
2023: Rays, 12
2022: Rays and Mets, 3
2021: Phillies and Astros, 4
2020: Astros, Padres, Cardinals and Dodgers, 2
2019: Phillies, 4
2018: Pirates and Nationals, 4
2017: Orioles and Twins, 4
2016: Orioles, 7
2015: Royals, 7
2014: Tigers, 4

Entering 2023, the last three seasons each saw multiple teams tied for the longest season-opening winning streak, including a 2020 campaign in which no team started better than 2-0. One of them — the Dodgers — went on to win the World Series. So did the 2015 Royals. The 2021 Astros, who started 4-0, won the American League pennant. Of the 16 teams that had or tied for the longest winning streak to open the season from 2014-2022, 11 qualified for the postseason.

Longest season-opening win streaks, Wild Card Era (1995-present)

1. 2023 Rays, 12
It’s as yet unclear when this streak will end, but the Rays have come storming out of the gates on both sides of the ball. Their +65 run differential is the largest by any team through the first 12 games of a season since 1884.

2. 2003 Royals, 9
Kansas City’s pitching sparked a nine-game win streak to open the 2003 season, a span featuring six games with two or fewer runs allowed. The Royals’ run came to an end with a 6-1 loss at Cleveland on April 13. After leading the AL Central for 107 days and being in first as late as Aug. 29, Kansas City finished third in the division at 83-79. It was the Royals’ only winning season from 1995 to 2012.

3-T. 2016 Orioles, 7
A 3-2 walk-off win over the Twins on Opening Day set the stage for a strong first week for the Orioles. Baltimore started 7-0 before a 4-2 loss at Fenway Park on April 13. Like the ‘03 Royals, the O’s spent a while in first place — 111 days leading the AL East — but settled for a Wild Card spot. Baltimore closer Zack Britton pitched to a 0.54 ERA and went 47-for-47 in save opportunities in 2016.

3-T. 2015 Royals, 7
A 7-0 start perhaps foreshadowed the result of the Royals’ 2015 season. Kansas City won its first World Series title since 1985, taking down the Mets in the Fall Classic. The Royals’ 15-7 April was their best month by win percentage as they went 95-67 in the regular season and won the AL Central.

3-T. 2003 Giants, 7
The Giants jumped out to a 7-0 start in 2003, winning six games on the road to start the year before a win over the Padres at home. San Diego exacted revenge the following day to end the streak, but it was just the start of a 100-61 season for the Giants — their third time reaching the century mark since moving to San Francisco in 1958.

3-T. 1996 Rangers, 7
The Rangers came out of the gate strong in 1996, sweeping the Red Sox and the Yankees as part of their unbeaten start. But a three-run walk-off homer in the 11th inning by Lyle Mouton of the White Sox on April 11 ended Texas’ string at seven. The Rangers won the AL West by 4 1/2 games before falling to the Yankees in the ALDS.

Longest season-opening win streaks, modern era (since 1900)

1-T. 1987 Brewers, 13
The Brewers got off to a scorching start in 1987, winning their first 13 games to set the AL record. The streak included Juan Nieves’ no-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles on April 15. Unfortunately for the Brewers, they proceeded to lose 12 straight games from May 3-19 and finished at 91-71, third in the AL East.

1-T. 1982 Braves, 13
The Braves hold the NL mark for most consecutive wins to open a season. They came back with two runs in the bottom of the ninth against the Reds for a 4-3 walk-off win that improved their record to 13-0. Cincinnati beat Atlanta 2-1 the next day to snap the string. The Braves finished 89-73 and won the NL West for the first time since 1969.

3. 2023 Rays, 12
With its 12th win of the year, Tampa Bay not only set a record for the longest season-opening winning streak in the Wild Card era but also became the third team in the modern era to start out 12-0.

4. 1981 Athletics, 11
Pitching fueled the 1981 A’s to an 11-0 start in 1981. Oakland allowed just 14 total runs amid its torrid stretch, including three shutouts. After outscoring the Mariners 30-2 in the first three contests of a four-game set, the A’s fell to Seattle 3-2 in the finale to end the streak. Led by manager Billy Martin, the A’s finished 64-45 in the strike-shortened season and won their first AL West title since 1975.

5-T. 1966 Indians, 10
A pair of extra-inning wins helped Cleveland to a 10-game winning streak to start the 1966 season. The Indians started 10-0 after 12-inning and 10-inning wins in their opening series against the Red Sox. The hot start didn’t last, though; Cleveland lost 11 of 12 games from July 3-16, and manager Birdie Tebbetts resigned in August. Cleveland finished 81-81, fifth in the American League.

5-T. 1962 Pirates, 10
The Pirates fell victim to a stacked National League table in 1962. Despite starting 10-0 and finishing 93-68, they ended up just fourth in the standings. The Giants won the pennant with a 103-62 record, the Dodgers were one game back at 102-63, and the Reds went 98-64. (The Mets went just 40-120 that season but were the ones who snapped the Pirates’ season-opening streak with a 9-1 win on April 23.)

5-T. 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers, 10
The Dodgers got off to a hot start in 1955 and never looked back, thanks in part to a standout season from center fielder Duke Snider (.309/.418/.628). Their 10-game win streak to start the year ended with a 5-4 loss to the New York Giants, but the Dodgers weren’t fazed. They finished 98-55-1, won the NL pennant by 13 1/2 games and beat the Yankees 4-3 in a classic World Series.

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