Reds rookie Tony Cingrani was electric in his third career start this afternoon against the Nationals. The 23-year-old lefty held the Nats to two hits, walking one and striking out 11 over six innings, lowering his ERA to 1.50 in the process.
Cingrani struck out four Nationals in the bottom of the fourth, a rare feat. He struck out Denard Span to lead off the inning, but catcher Corky Miller couldn’t corral the sinker in the dirt, allowing Span to reach base safely. Danny Espinosa doubled to put runners on second and third with no outs, but Cingrani buckled down and struck out Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, and Ian Desmond to escape the inning unscathed and with four more strikeouts in the box score.
The last Reds pitcher to strike out four in an inning was Frankie Rodriguez in 2001, per the Reds official Twitter. More specifically, it was on July 22.
Everyone is well aware of how good Angels outfielder Mike Trout is at the game of baseball. The 26-year-old is already an all-time great, having won two MVP awards — and arguably deserving of two others — and the 2012 Rookie of the Year Award. He has accrued 54.2 WAR, per Baseball Reference, which is right around the threshold for a Hall of Fame career. Trout does it all: he draws walks, he hits for average, he hits for power, he steals bases, he plays good defense.
But here’s an achievement that is amazing even for a player like Trout: he has yet to strike out this spring. In 41 Cactus League plate appearances, he has 10 hits (including a triple and two homers) and six walks with zero strikeouts. Across his career, Trout has a 21.5 percent strikeout rate, right around the league average. He isn’t usually such a stickler for avoiding the punch-out, but this spring he is.
To put this in perspective, 134 players this spring have struck out at least 10 times, according to MLB.com. 938 players have struck out at least once. The only other players to have taken at least 10 at-bats without striking out this spring are Humberto Arteaga (Royals, 23 AB), Tony Cruz (Reds, 18 AB), Oscar Hernandez (Red Sox, 10 AB), and Jacob Stallings (Pirates, 18 AB).
According to Angels assistant hitting coach Paul Sorrento, the lack of strikeouts hasn’t been a conscious effort from Trout, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. Ho hum. The best player in baseball is apparently getting even better.