Aaron Harang falls just short of history with nine consecutive strikeouts

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Aaron Harang led the National League in strikeouts way back in 2006 as a member of the Reds, but we certainly don’t think of him a strikeout-type anymore. Some blame Dusty Baker for killing his arm, but the 33-year-old right-hander has averaged just 6.6 K/9 over the past two seasons. Still, he came very close to becoming an unlikely part of history tonight.

After giving up a leadoff single to Cameron Maybin in the top of the first inning, Harang struck out the next nine batters he faced. To put into perspective how odd this is, Harang had gone 44 straight starts without striking out nine in a game. The veteran right-hander began the top of the fourth inning with a chance to tie Tom Seaver’s major league record (April 22, 1970) with 10 consecutive strikeouts, but Will Venable took him deep to break up the streak and end the shutout. So much for that.

While Harang’s unlikely run at MLB history fell short, he did top the franchise record for consecutive strikeouts, which was set when Johnny Podres struck out eight straight against the Phillies on July 2, 1962. Breaking Johnny Podres’ record against the Padres? Now that’s weird.

UPDATE: Harang tied his career-high with 13 strikeouts before exiting after 6 1/3 innings, having allowed four runs on four hits and two walks. The Dodgers won 9-8 on a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Anthony Alford to miss 4-6 weeks following wrist surgery

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Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.

Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.

Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.

Stephen Strasburg hit a new career high today

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Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.

It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.

While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.

The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”