Yesterday, I talked about Ichiro and his consistency and longevity in Major League Baseball. If you haven't heard, there is another just as impressive streak that is also active.
The San Francisco Giants' pitchers have allowed three or fewer runs in 18 straight games. This isn't that the starter has allowed three or fewer in 18 straight. This streak is for the entire game - the starters, middle relievers, set up guys and the closer.
These are Major League hitters that the Giants are facing. They aren't facing minor leaguers every night. They are facing professional hitters that are the best in the world at what they do. And the Giants' haven't allowed more than 3 runs in almost three weeks.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau (through an ESPN article), this is the longest streak since the Chicago White Sox had a 20 game streak in 1917.
I would bet that each member of the Giants' pitching staff is putting a lot of pressure on himself not to be the person who allows the streak to end. To be a successful athlete, you have to have a little pride in what you do. Each pitcher has pride in this ongoing streak - as they should - and doesn't want to see it end.
But there also has to be a different degree of focus on what they are doing. You should never relax whenever you are competing. All it takes is a loss of focus for several seconds to change or alter the outcome of the game. But I'm sure that every Giants' pitcher is taking a little extra with him to the mound.
There is undoubtedly a little luck that is on the Giants side and you have to get great starting pitching to even be in that position. And the Giants' rotation of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner have been unbelievable.
As a former professional pitcher, I know there are nights when you just don't feel good, have good command or throw as hard as usual. This stable of Giants' pitchers are showing what focusing on a common goal - making the playoffs - can do for a team.