The goal at the ballpark every day is to win a game, but sometimes, losses can mount, even extending into historically long streaks. The longest single-season losing streak in MLB history (pending the inclusion of Negro Leagues stats) was 26 games, by the 1889 Louisville Colonels. Baseball looked a bit different back then, to say the least. In the Modern Era (since 1900), that distinction belongs to the 1961 Phillies, who lost 23 straight. And in the postseason, the record is an active one -- the Twins have lost 18 straight playoff games.
Here’s a look at the longest single-season losing streaks since 1900, with help from the Elias Sports Bureau, and the five longest in the postseason, too.
1) 1961 Phillies: 23 straight losses
The '61 Phillies were already 29 games behind in the NL before their losing skid began on July 29. When they snapped it, they were 42 games behind. The streak began against the Giants and ended in a doubleheader against the Braves, when the Phils took the second game on Aug. 20. It actually began a four-game winning streak -- the team’s longest winning streak of the season. The Phillies finished the season 47-107.
2) 1988 Orioles: 21 straight losses
The '88 O’s didn’t just lose 21 straight -- they did it to start the season. They lost to the Brewers on Opening Day on April 4, 12-0, and did not win their first game of the year until April 29 at the White Sox, in Game 22 of the season. They finished the year 54-107.
3-T) 1969 Expos: 20 straight losses
In the franchise’s first MLB season, the Expos went on quite the streak from May 13 through June 7, dropping 20 straight. The stretch started with a 10-3 loss against the Astros and ended on June 8 with a 4-3 win at the Dodgers. The Expos finished the season 52-110.
3-T) 1943 Athletics: 20 straight losses
Connie Mack’s A’s were 40-58 through a 4-0 win against the Yankees on Aug. 6, but it went further downhill from there. They lost, 3-1, to the Yankees the following day and went on to lose each game through the first game of a doubleheader on Aug. 24. In the second game of that twin bill at the White Sox, the team finally won, 8-1, to snap the skid, before losing their next four games after. They finished 49-105, also tying one game.
3-T) 1916 Athletics: 20 straight losses
That’s right -- Mack managed two A’s teams that notched 20-game losing streaks, which is part of what can happen across any long tenure like his. The A’s streak began with a 7-2 loss against the Indians on July 21 and ran through a 9-0 loss at the Tigers on Aug. 8. The 1916 A’s never won more than two consecutive games and finished 36-117, also tying one game.
3-T) 1906 Boston Americans: 20 straight losses
The Americans, now known as the Red Sox, saw their streak begin with an 8-0 loss at the Yankees on May 1. They next won a game on May 25 against the White Sox, a win that improved their record to 7-27. How long ago was this? Fenway Park didn’t open until 1912 -- the team’s home park in 1906 was the Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds. The Americans finished 49-105, and also had one tie.
7-T) 2021 Orioles: 19 straight losses
The Orioles' losing streak began after an Aug. 2 win at Yankee Stadium. You may remember that game, where a stray cat ended up loose on the field and caused quite a stir. The O's would not win another game until Aug. 25, and over their 0-19 run they were outscored by 108 runs, the worst run differential by any team in a 19-game span since at least 1901.
7-T) 2005 Royals: 19 straight losses
The Royals beat the White Sox on July 27 in 13 innings, but couldn’t carry that momentum on their subsequent road trip, losing the next day in Tampa Bay. They went on to lose 19 straight overall, next winning on Aug. 20 at the A’s. They finished 56-106.
7-T) 1975 Tigers: 19 straight losses
The Tigers actually reeled off a nine-game winning streak in early July against the Orioles, Brewers, White Sox and Royals, but by the end of the month, a different streak began. They lost on July 29 at the Yankees and did not win another game until Aug. 16 at the Angels. The Tigers finished 57-102.
7-T) 1914 Reds: 19 straight losses
The Reds entered September at 54-63, just nine games below .500, and were 56-65 through Sept. 4. But on Sept. 5 they lost, 12-2, to the Cardinals, and wouldn’t win again until the second game of a doubleheader at the Braves on Sept. 23. The Reds won just four more games the rest of the way including that one, finishing at 60-94, with three ties.
7-T) 1906 Boston Beaneaters: 19 straight losses
In 1906 there were two Boston teams, with the Braves’ franchise, at that time the Beaneaters, still there, too. The teams shared the city from 1901, when the AL and Red Sox franchise began, through 1952 before the Braves moved to Milwaukee for '53. And both teams put together losing streaks of 19-plus games in 1906. The Beaneaters’ streak began with a loss to the Reds on May 17 and ended with a win against the Cardinals on June 9. The Beaneaters finished 49-102, with one tie.
1) 2004 ALDS Game 2-present: Twins, 18 straight
The Twins’ active postseason losing streak is the largest in North American professional sports history. Their last win came in 2004 ALDS Game 1 against the Yankees, when Johan Santana pitched seven scoreless innings opposite Mike Mussina, who allowed two runs, one on a Shannon Stewart single and one on a Jacque Jones home run.
2) 1986 WS Game 6-1995 ALDS Game 3: Red Sox, 13 straight
The Red Sox’s 10-inning loss to the Mets in Game 6 began a stretch of 13 straight postseason losses, which ran through a Game 3 loss to be swept in the '95 ALDS against the Indians. The Sox snapped the streak in Game 1 of the ALDS in '98, defeating those same Indians, 11-3.
3) 1915 WS Game 2-1976 NLCS Game 3: Phillies, 11 straight
The Phillies won the first postseason game in franchise history, in Game 1 of the 1915 World Series, but then lost the second game of that series to begin this streak. The final loss in the stretch was the decisive Game 3 of the 1976 NLCS against the Reds. The following year, the Phillies won Game 1 of the NLCS at the Dodgers to snap the streak, before losing another five straight postseason games.
4-T) 1980 WS Game 5-1985 ALCS Game 2: Royals, 10 straight
The Royals entered Game 5 of the 1980 World Series tied at two games apiece with the Phillies, but lost Games 5 and 6, beginning this streak. They wouldn’t win another postseason game until 1985 ALCS Game 3 against the Blue Jays, but they reversed the trend right in time, going on to win that series in seven games and the World Series in seven, too.
4-T) 1958 WS Game 5-1991 NLCS Game 1: Braves, 10 straight
The Braves led the Yankees, 3-1, in the 1958 World Series before losing three straight to drop the series and begin this streak. They next won a postseason game in 1991 NLCS Game 2 against the Pirates, winning, 1-0, thanks to a Mark Lemke RBI double and 8 1/3 scoreless innings from Steve Avery.