When you’re a franchise like the Chicago Cubs, it takes quite a bit of doing to challenge an all-time club mark for futility, but danged if the Cubs aren’t threatening to do it here in 2011.
On June 4, in the final game of a four-game series against the Giants, the Cubs lost by a score of 3-2. This means they were swept in that series and have dropped 15 of their last 18. In fact, they’ve now been swept in five of their last six series.
But that’s not what I want to note.
Not only have the Cubs lost a lot of games lately, but they’ve lost an impressive number of contests by that slenderest of all margins, one run. In fact, the Cubs have now dropped their last 10 one-run decisions.
And that’s where they threaten to make some unwanted franchise history.
This is the fourth time in their history the Cubs have dropped 10 consecutive one-run decisions. The franchise record is 11, set nearly a century ago. So if the Cubs drop the next game decided by one run, they’ll have tied a mark of frustration. Yeah, no one wants to do that.
This is the fourth time the Cubs have lost 10 consecutive one-runners. They did it in July 1915, September 1921, and May 1921—and now June 2012.
On May 14, 1972, they lost 2-1 to the Braves. It was their sixth one-run game of the year and they’d lost them all. They hadn’t one a game by one run since Sept. 18, 1971. Four of their close losses had come in extra innings.
But three days later they beat the Phillies 3-2 for their first close win of the year.
In 1921, they dropped 10 one-run games from Aug. 18 to Sept. 6. Then, after nearly two weeks without a close game, they finally won one, 1-0 over the Dodgers, to end their skid in these contests.
The 1915 slump is still the record. In the stretch of 18 games, the Cubs played in 11 contests decided by one run and lost every single one of them. Finally, on Aug 1, 1915 they won a 2-1 game, to end the streak at 11.
The 2012 Cubs got a chance to tie and even break the old club record. Their last close win was 1-0 over the Braves on May 9. Since then the Cubs have gone 5-18—which means 5-8 in games decided by at least two runs and 0-10 in the others.
Eventually the streak will end. All things do. But will it be in time to avoid breaking a 97 year old franchise record?