The Angels tied a major league record Tuesday as five pitchers combined to fan 20 batters in a 5-4 defeat of the Mariners.
Zack Greinke struck out 13 and allowed one run in his five innings of work, but with his pitch count up to 110, the Angels decided to pull him early. That didn’t reduce the errant swings, though. Garrett Richards fanned the side in the sixth, Kevin Jepsen added two in the eighth and Ernesto Frieri got two more in a scoreless ninth to tie the record.
For all the whiffing, the Mariners actually made a game of it in the seventh against Scott Downs. The Angels chose to pull Richards despite all of his success in the sixth, and it proved costly, as Downs gave up two doubles and homer to the five batters he faced.
Between the seventh and the eighth innings, the Mariners sent eight straight batters to the plate without any strikeouts. However, after Miguel Olivo singled and Trayvon Robinson put down a sac bunt in the eighth, Jepsen rebounded to strike out Mike Carp and Dustin Ackley to end the inning.
The Angels became the first team in major league history to record 20 strikeouts in a nine-inning game using multiple pitchers. The previous three official 20-K games were all single pitcher affairs (Roger Clemens in 1986 and 1996 and Kerry Wood in 1998). Randy Johnson also had a 20-strikeout game against the Reds in 2001, but that one ended up going into extra innings.
As for the victims, Ackley led the way with four strikeouts, followed by Robinson and Brendan Ryan with three apiece. Justin Smoak hit two homers and walked for Seattle, but even he struck out once in the contest.
After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.
According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.
Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.
Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.