I don’t mention this often enough, boys and girls, but you all are really great. May was a fabulous month for HardballTalk. We set our all-time record for traffic and tripled the clicks we had in May 2009 (back when the blog went by the name “The Quarrymen”).
We’ve got a lot of great stuff rolling out in the coming weeks and months. One of those things is a redesign of the joint which will help keep older content from getting buried like it currently does and will make our other NBC blogs more accessible for everyone. Yes, some of you will moan about it at first because people have moaned about every redesign since the invention of the Internet, but I can assure you, this one will make the blog better.
Another change will be the addition of some video content featuring a pasty, bespectacled bald guy with a nasally Midwestern voice hating on all of your favorite teams. Sure, that will likely cause us to lose all of our traffic gains but it will hopefully be fun anyway.
But let’s be clear about something: everything we’ve been able to do with HardballTalk has been a function of one thing: you guys coming back and spending your free time and mouse clicks on us.
We realize you have a lot of choices when it comes to blog surfing, and we’d like to thank you for flying HardballTalk.
Justin Verlander is approaching the tail end of a fantastic year with the Astros — arguably one of his best in the last decade — and on Saturday, he kicked off his last regular season start at Minute Maid Park with a strikeout, his 270th of the year. While that’s still a few shy of Max Scherzer‘s league-best mark of 290, it was a new personal record for Verlander, who had yet to beat the previous career record he set with 269 strikeouts in 2009.
Verlander’s moment arrived at the top of the first inning on a seven-pitch called strikeout against the Angels’ Kole Calhoun. Cole worked a 2-2 count, then fouled off a pair of 95-MPH fastballs before missing the seventh and final pitch at the top of the strike zone.
Jose Fernandez battled twice as long in the next at-bat, albeit with far more disastrous results. His 14-pitch duel against the Astros’ righty ended when he caught a fastball on his hand and was forced to come out of the game.
After expending a total of 27 pitches in the first inning, however, Verlander returned in the second to strike out the side, then logged another pair of strikeouts in the third. With six strikeouts through three innings, he boosted his season strikeout total to 275 — just a hair above fellow Houston righty Gerrit Cole (and all other AL pitchers), who previously led the team with 272 whiffs on the year.