1997: Radke Wins 12 Straight

Monday August 4, 1997

Jim Souhan covered the game in the Star Tribune:

One of the two players who contributed most to the Twins’ 9-3 victory over Toronto is a franchise cornerstone; the other has been used like human duct tape. So it shouldn’t be surprising that Brad Radke’s stretch of success is measured in months, while Greg Colbrunn’s lasted one satisfying split-second.

Radke did his usual rope-a-dope Monday night at the Metrodome, giving up a handful of hard liners, pitching out of jams and winning his 12th consecutive start. That ties the Twins’ team record for consecutive victories set by Scott Erickson in 1991, and the franchise record for victories in consecutive starts set by the great Walter Johnson of the Washington Senators in 1912.

This is rarefied air – and it’s a little harder to breathe. “I felt a little more nervous in the first inning tonight than I have in the past,” Radke said. “So it maybe was a little different tonight.”

Radke (16-5) tied Toronto’s Roger Clemens for most victories in the majors this season. Radke is 12-0 with a 1.87 ERA during his streak; the two runs he gave up Monday were unearned, so he reduced his ERA from 3.48 to 3.34.

But if not for Colbrunn’s fifth-inning grand slam – the first by a Twins’ pinch hitter all season – Radke’s streak might have stalled. “It’s nice to contribute,” Colbrunn said.

It was clear, however, that Radke was the draw.

The Twins’ crowd of 19,018 Monday boosted the team’s season attendance to 1,002,015. When Radke left the game, having given up five hits over seven innings, most of the fans left the building.

The Twins might not move comfortably over the 1 million mark until Saturday, when Radke will seek his team-record 13th consecutive victory against the Yankees’ David Wells at the Dome.

“That’ll be big,” Radke said. “Going against the Yankees, and Wells.”

According to Twins research done through the Elias Sports Bureau, only two other pitchers since 1950 have won 12 consecutive starts; Bob Gibson in 1968 and Pat Dobson in 1971.

Over the past two months, Radke has associated himself with such latter-day greats as Clemens and Seattle’s Randy Johnson, the two pitchers who probably would finish ahead of him in the Cy Young voting if the vote were held today.

Box

Radke pitched well against they Yankees in his next start, allowing just two runs over eight innings pitched. The win streak ended, however, as the offense only scored a single run in the Yankees 4-1 win.

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