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If the starting pitcher can pitch the entire game without giving up a run he earns a complete game shutout. The currect record holder for most career shutouts is Walter Johnson with 110; the current active leader is Randy Johnson with 37.
Though less than half of Walter Johnson's record, Randy Johnson's total is not likely to be reached by anyone else for some time, if ever, as pitchers rarely earn more than 1 or 2 shutouts per season today with the heavy emphasis on pitch counts and relief pitching. In today's game pitchers are frequently taken out of the game in the 7th or 8th inning even if the opposing team hasn't scored a run. A pitcher getting a complete game shutout today usually entails one of the following circumstances: getting through the game while throwing an unusually low number of pitches; having one's own team score a large number of runs (allowing the pitcher a "run cushion" to complete the game without relief); or the team has a need that day to keep an unusually overworked bullpen rested if possible. An example of the rarity of the complete game shutout is with young pitcher Chien-Ming Wang of the New York Yankees. On August 2, 2006 against the Toronto Blue Jays he had a very good chance at achieving a shutout in two consecutive starts, an extremely rare feat today. However, despite a commanding 7-0 lead, he was taken out after 8 innings due to a combination of a high pitch count and unusually hot weather during the game. The one season record is 16 shutouts, by George Washington Bradley of St.Louis NL in 1876 and Grover Cleveland Alexander of the 1916 Philadelphia Phillies. John Tudor of the St. Louis Cardinals is last pitcher with 10 or more in one season, with 10, in 1985. Don Drysdale of L.A. Dodgershad 6 consecutive complete-game shutouts in 1968 and Orel Hershiser, also of L.A. Dodgers had 5 consecutive complete-game shutouts in 1988, with 10 shutout-innings in the following game.
The term can also be used, however, to describe periods of time longer or shorter than one game. For instance, the efforts of a relief pitcher could be described as "three shutout innings" or a pitcher may have pitched a shutout over the "past 22 innings" (slightly over two full games.) See also: no-hitter and perfect game.