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.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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Dave Nelson/USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.