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In team sports, a shutout (a clean sheet in association football) refers to a game in which one team prevents the opposing team from scoring. While possible in all major sports, they are highly improbable in some sports, such as basketball.[1]

Shutouts are usually seen as a result of effective defensive play even though a weak opposing offense may be as much to blame. Some sports credit individual players, particularly goalkeepers and starting pitchers, with shutouts and keep track of them as statistics; others do not.

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Baseball

The term shutout has two possible meanings in baseball. It can refer to a team accomplishment, when one team defeats another team without allowing them to score a run. More often, however, it refers to a feat performed by an individual pitcher. If the starting pitcher can pitch the entire game (known as throwing a complete game) without giving up a run, he earns a shutout. In Major League Baseball, a shutout is denoted statistically as ShO (or SHO) in a player's records. A shutout is denoted that way in order to alleviate confusion with a strikeout, which is denoted as SO. Major League Baseball also recognizes K as the abbreviation for strikeout in order to distinguish the two.[2] The current record holder for most career shutouts is Walter Johnson with 110. Randy Johnson, who has 37 career shutouts and led all active pitchers, retired after the 2009 season.[3] No active pitcher is part of the top 100 all time shutout leaders. [4]

Even after over 80 years, Walter Johnson's shutout record is one of the most secure in baseball, as pitchers rarely earn more than one or two shutouts per season today with the heavy emphasis on pitch counts and relief pitching. In the dead-ball era and throughout much of the first three-quarters of the twentieth century, starting pitchers were generally expected to perform complete games. Nowadays, pitchers are frequently taken out of the game in the seventh or eighth inning even if the opposing team has not scored a run. A pitcher getting a complete game shutout today usually entails one of the following circumstances: getting through the game while throwing a 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, though on some teams a pitcher is more likely to be relieved in this situation rather than "wastefully" wearing him down or risking injury); or the team has a need that day to keep a bullpen rested if possible. It may also be done if the pitcher is working on a rare feat such as a no-hitter or perfect game; for example on June 7, 2007, Curt Schilling pitched a complete game shutout in which the score ended 1-0. The only reason he was kept in such a close game was that he had a no-hitter going that was broken up with two outs in the ninth inning. 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 eight innings due to a combination of a high pitch count and hot weather during the game.

The term can also be used 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). Similarly, if two or more pitchers contribute to a shutout, it is referred to as a "combined shutout," even though no pitcher get credit for a shutout on their individual statistics.

Ice hockey

In ice hockey, a shutout is given to a team whose goaltender successfully stops the other team from scoring and plays the entire game. The record holder for most regular-season career shutouts in the National Hockey League is Martin Brodeur with 108 (see the all-time regular season shutout leaders). The modern-day record for a team being shut out in a season is held by the Columbus Blue Jackets at sixteen, during the 2006-2007 NHL season.

Association Football

In Association Football, this is known as a clean sheet outside of North America. In association football in Great Britain, a "clean sheet" can be attributed to the whole team, the defence or just the goalkeeper when they play an entire match without conceding a goal.

The term first appeared in the 1930s. Sports reporters of the era used separate pieces of paper to record the different statistical details of a game. If one team did not allow a goal, then that team's "details of goals conceded" page would appear blank, leaving a clean sheet.

Because football is a relatively low-scoring game, it is not unusual for one team, or even both teams, to score no goals.

American Football

A shutout in American football is a fairly uncommon occurrence. Keeping an opponent scoreless in American Football requires a team's defense to be able to consistently shut down both pass and run offenses over the course of a game. The difficulty of completing a shutout is further compounded by the relatively numerous ways a team can score in the game. For example, teams can easily (and often do) attempt field goals, which have a high rate of success. The range of NFL caliber kickers makes it easy for a team with an incompetent offense to get within fifty yards of the goalposts and attempt a kick. There have been 79 shutouts in 1,168 regular-season games this decade, for an average of only one shutout for every 15 games.

Shelbyville Tennessee's Bedford County Training School Fighting Tigers recorded 52 consecutive shutouts from 1942 to 1949, a record for an American high school football team. The second longest streak is 18.[5][6]

Rugby

Shutouts are not common in either rugby union or rugby league, but they do happen. In fact, the 2005 Gillette Rugby League Tri-Nations final was the first time that Australia had been 'nilled' since 1981.[citation needed]

The term "shutout" is not in common usage in European sport, and thus is not applied to European rugby, and there is no alternative term for the occurrence of a team achieving a no score, except to say that the team scored "nil". For example, the December 2006 Magners League match between Munster and Connacht ended 12–0 to Munster;[6] it was, therefore, said that Munster won "twelve-nil."

Generally, a defensively well-disciplined team, as well as behaviourally (thereby not giving away penalty kicks), is most likely to not give away scores. Although this will also occur if there is a significant gulf in class between the two teams, for example, when Scotland beat Spain (who were playing in their only Rugby World Cup) 48–0 in the 1999 Rugby World Cup,[7] or when Australia beat Namibia 142–0 in the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

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Simple English

In team sports, a shutout (a clean sheet in association football) means that one team in a game prevented the other from scoring. They often happen in ice hockey and association foot, sometimes in baseball and American football, rarely in rugby, and although it is possible, it almost never occurs in basketball.


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