Win 13 games in a row, then lose 12 games in a row

The Tampa Bay Rays are off to a remarkable start in the 2023 baseball season. They have won their first 13 games and tied the record of 13 consecutive wins to begin a season. However, it is essential to remember what happened the last time a team achieved this feat.

In 1987, the Milwaukee Brewers set the baseball world abuzz when they won their first 13 games, tying the record set by the 1982 Atlanta Braves. The Brewers were on top of the world, and their fans were ecstatic. But things went south quickly two weeks later when the team lost 12 games in a row. This losing streak remains a record of futility to this day.

bar graph screenshot of the 1987 Brewers wins and losses from April 1987 and May 1987.
(This graph is based on a screenshot from baseball-reference’s page for the 1987 Brewers)
  • 13-game win streak: Apr 6 to Apr 20
  • 12-game losing streak May 3 to May 19

The final standings for the AL East in 1987

It is worth noting that the Brewers finished in third place that season with a record of 91-71. The Detroit Tigers narrowly took first place at the end of the season, just ahead of the Brewers.

Detroit Tigers9864.605
Toronto Blue Jays9666.5932.0
Milwaukee Brewers9171.5627.0
New York Yankees8973.5499.0
Boston Red Sox7884.48120.0
Baltimore Orioles6795.41431.0
Cleveland Indians61101.37737.0

What happened to the hot-start Brewers?

Here’s a look at their record by month.

  • 18-3 in April
  • 6-18 in May
  • 13-15 in June
  • 15-13 in July
  • 18-11 in August
  • 20-9 in September. Impressive, but not enough to catch up to the Blue Jays or Tigers.
  • 1-2 in October

A dramatic ending with another losing streak to lose first place

Just as the Brewers fell apart after their hot start, the Toronto Blue Jays had their own falling apart, but right at the end of the season. After the September 30th game, the Blue Jays were in first place, 1.5 games ahead of the Tigers. But the Blue Jays lost their last three games, whereas the Tigers won all four in October, leapfrogging into first place.

Who held first place the longest?

With such back and forth, which 1987 AL East team had the most days in first place?

  • 30 games: Tigers (they won the division)
  • 31 games: Brewers (slipping out on May 14)
  • 58 games: Blue Jays (their last day in first was October 2)
  • 69 games: Yankees (August 8 was their last day in first place)

What an incredible season for the American League East in 1987.

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