Koji’s amazing streak

Fred Lewis is the answer to a trivia question.

That question: Who is the last batter to draw a walk vs. Orioles’ reliever Koji Uehara? It was in a 4-2 Toronto win over the Birds last July 16th at Camden Yards. Ricky Romero got the win and Kevin Gregg, now with the O’s, picked up his 21st save.

In the top of the 9th of that game, Lewis walked versus Koji. The O’s pitcher has now fanned 46 batters since that last walk over 35 appearances.

That is the most consecutive strikeouts without a walk in the AL since Pedro Martinez fanned 49 in a row in 2000.

In fact, just four pitchers since 1954 have longer streaks than Uehara. Curt Shilling fanned 56 straight without a walk in 2002, Greg Maddux got 53 in a row in 2001, Pedro had his streak in 2000 and Dennis Eckersley fanned 47 straight during the 1989 and 1990 seasons.

Koji is an amazing strike thrower. There is no other way to say it. He has pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings over three games this year. In those outings he has thrown 21 of 28 pitches for strikes.

He walked just five batters over 44 innings last season. He led AL relievers (minimum 40 IP) with an 11 to 1 strikeout to walks ratio.

He has issued just 17 walks in 113 1/3 career innings over 58 games with the Birds.

But is Koji the closer on this team? Kevin Gregg has recorded the only O’s save to date. Koji pitched the ninth on Thursday night in the comeback win over Detroit, but it was not a save situation.

I can see fans getting a little frustrated with Gregg, who averages close to four walks per every nine innings of his big league career. A shaky save is better than a blown save, but if Gregg struggles with his control that would stand out even more due to Koji’s excellent control.

Will the O’s have a closer controversy later in this season? Who knows. We do know when it comes to throwing strikes, no one does that better on the O’s than Koji Uehara.

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