Brent Lillibridge came to bat in the bottom of the second inning looking for his first Cub hit. Lillibridge had gone 0 for 14 at this point in his Cub career. Three pitches in to the at bat, Jim Deshaies makes the dreaded reference to Craig Counsell.
First let me say that I liked Craig Counsell as a ball player. He did what I value most in a position player and that is get on base, but Craig Counsell is now perhaps best remembered for going 0 for 45 in a single season. At the time, it was one short of the believed record set by Bill Bergen of 0 for 46. However, research into the matter discovered that Bergen actually had only gone 0 for 45 which meant that Counsell, Bergen and Dave Campbell all shared the mark at 0 for 45. The record was broken two years ago by Eugenio Velez going 0 for 46 over two seasons.
Brent Lillibridge would end up going 0 for 3 at the end of the night which pushed his streak to 17 at bats without a hit. Lillibridge appears to be a long way off from the mark of 46 still, but he is coming off from a terrible 2012 campaign. His last hit came in a game against the Royals on September 29th. In the top of the fourth Lillibridge collected his second single of the afternoon, but would end up striking out in his final at bat. He would play in three more games collecting 7 more hitless at bats. That means the streak is actually at 25 at bats without a hit.
During the streak Lillibridge has struck out in over half of his at bats, 13 out of 25. That contact rate certainly works in favor of the streak continuing. The other factor working in Brent Lillibridge’s favor is that he is likely to get at least a few more starts in the next couple of days. Darwin Barney is not eligible to come off of the DL until Tuesday which gives him five more possible starts. The Cubs will face three righties and one southpaw of the pitchers that have been announced. Lillibridge will likely get the bulk of the playing time. Assuming that he gets all five starts until Darwin Barney gets back would potentially net him 20 more at bats. If he were to go hitless for that stretch, he would be one shy of Velez’s modern hitless streak record. Perhaps it isn’t too early to talk about Craig Counsell after all.