Professional baseball dates back to 1876, when the National League was founded. The American League was officially founded in 1901, and the two leagues began playing together as Major League Baseball in 1903.
Since 1903, there’s obviously been a number of impressive streaks and records. Over 118 years later, we witnessed one of those incredible feats. The St. Louis Cardinals won their 17th consecutive game on Tuesday with a victory against the Milwaukee Brewers.
St. Louis locked up the second NL wild card spot with its Tuesday victory, but the streak came to an end with a shutout defeat against Milwaukee on Wednesday, putting them short of a controversial record.
Here’s a look at some of the longest winning and losing streaks in MLB history:
What is the longest winning streak in MLB history?
The longest winning streak in MLB history is a contentious topic. The 1916 New York Giants technically hold the record at 26 straight wins, but it came with an unofficial tie during the run. New York won 12 straight games, then played a tie against the Pittsburgh Pirates when the game was paused due to rain and it was too dark to continue. Per the rules at that time, the tie did not count in the standings and the game would be replayed from the start the next day in a doubleheader. While the game did not count in the standings, statistics from the game still counted. The Giants won the replay the next day, and 13 more games after that, to set the MLB record of 26 consecutive wins.
Most of the other streaks are from the early 20th century, long before any of us were born. Two teams from the 21st century still have win streaks longer than the Cardinals’ current run -- the 2017 Cleveland Indians at 22 games and the 2002 Oakland Athletics at 20 games. Neither of those teams won a playoff series, both losing in the American League Division Series.
26 - New York Giants (1916, had an unofficial tie)
22 - Cleveland Indians (2017)
21 - Chicago Cubs (1935)
20 - Oakland Athletics (2002)
19 - Chicago White Sox (1906, had an unofficial tie), New York Yankees (1937)
18 - New York Giants (1904), New York Yankees (1953)
17 - New York Giants (1907), Washington Senators (1912), New York Giants (1916), Philadelphia Athletics (1931), Pittsburgh Pirates (1937-38), St. Louis Cardinals (2021)
What is the longest losing streak in MLB history?
Record-breaking losing streaks have happened much more recently than the winning streaks, with six of the 11 longest losing streaks coming after 1960. Philadelphia appears prominently on this list, with the 1961 Philadelphia Phillies holding the longest losing skid at 23 games and Philadelphia Athletics losing 20 straight on two separate occasions.
The 2021 Baltimore Orioles added their name to this list over the summer, losing 19 straight from Aug. 3 to Aug. 24. The 1988 O’s hold the second-worst losing streak ever at 21 games, and it came to start the season. Despite having two future Hall of Famers in Cal Ripken Jr. and Eddie Murray, Baltimore suffered 21 straight losses to begin the season 0-21, the worst start in MLB history.
23 - Philadelphia Phillies (1961)
21 - Baltimore Orioles (1988)
20 - Boston Americans (1906), Philadelphia Athletics (1916), Philadelphia Athletics (1943), Montreal Expos (1969)
19 - Boston Beaneaters (1906), Cincinnati Reds (1914), Detroit Tigers (1975), Kansas City Royals (2005), Baltimore Orioles (2021)