ATLANTA – Let the countdown begin.
“Just two more shutouts – I should have that, no problem,” Brandon Webb said facetiously Friday night, drawing laughs from reporters who just watched the Diamondbacks sinkerball pitcher throw a third consecutive shutout and extend his scoreless-innings streak to 42 innings by two-hitting the Atlanta Braves in a 4-0 victory at Turner Field.
Forty-two innings, 126 outs and zero runs allowed, a streak that has stretched across six starts and, though Webb played it down, brings him within shouting distance of Dodgers great Orel Hershiser’s record of 59 innings.
“Unbelievable,” D’backs CEO Jeff Moorad said after the game.
There were others at a loss for words after Webb’s gem, including his manager, Bob Melvin, who seemed truly astonished at what his pitcher accomplished, particularly against an Atlanta lineup that might be the best in the National League.
“I don’t know what to say, to tell you the truth,” Melvin said. “Going into (the game), with their lineup, with how hard you’d have to work to get through that lineup, the humidity, the heat, all that, I didn’t think there would be a good chance that he’d be able to finish the game.”
Yet Webb did it with relative ease, needing just 102 pitches and allowing just three base runners (two soft hits and a walk), one of whom was erased on a double play, as Webb faced just two over the minimum.
But Webb believes he might have had some luck on his side. A couple of hard-hit balls went right at second baseman Orlando Hudson, a Brian McCann line drive landed just foul in the first inning, and then there was Willie Harris’ fly ball in the ninth.
Webb fell behind in the count and grooved a fastball that Harris crushed into right field. But the ball died in the thick, humid air, and Justin Upton caught it near the warning track.
“It’s totally amazing to me,” Webb said. “Things are just going my way.”
Oh, and by the way, that’s 20 wins in the past 25 games for the D’backs. They got two more homers from Chris Young – that’s five in the past four games – and a monster blast from Mark Reynolds, whose two-run shot in the eighth traveled an estimated 453 feet and provided breathing room for Webb in what had been a 1-0 game.
Webb continued to show masterful control of his sinker, throwing it early in counts to get ahead – he threw first-pitch strikes to 21 of 29 batters – then using off-speed stuff to get strikeouts.
“We couldn’t hit Webb,” Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said. “I guess nobody can. He’s that good.”
The only Braves’ hits were Kelly Johnson’s bloop double in the fourth and Jeff Francoeur’s single in the fifth.
“It’s a little weird,” Webb said. “It’s been so long, it’s going to be weird out there, actually, when I give up a run.”
If he doesn’t yield a run in his next start – Wednesday against Milwaukee at Chase Field – he’ll be standing at the doorstep of history.
Brandon Webb is tied with Rube Foster for the 12th-longest scoreless-innings streak. The longest streaks since 1940:
59 innings Orel Hershiser, Dodgers, 1988
58 2/3 Don Drysdale, Dodgers, 1968
47 Bob Gibson, Cardinals, 1968
45 Sal Maglie, Giants, 1950
42 Brandon Webb, D’backs, 2007