Rays strike out 21 batters, lose in 15 innings anyway

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The Rays had MLB’s highest strikeout game in five years Monday, fanning 21 A’s in 15 innings, only to lose 4-3 on a Jemile Weeks sacrifice fly.

The 21 strikeouts were a franchise record for Tampa Bay, as well as a franchise record for A’s hitters. It was the first team a team has struck out 21 batters in a game since the A’s fanned that many Rangers in a 13-inning game on Aug. 6, 2007.

Of course, the record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game is 20, established by Boston’s Roger Clemens in 1986 and later matched by Clemens in 1996 and the Cubs’ Kerry Wood in 1998. Randy Johnson also struck out 20 batters in 2001, but that game went into extra innings.

The record for strikeouts in an extra-inning game is 26, established by the A’s in a 20-inning game against the Angels on July 9, 1971. They won that game 1-0. The record was later matched by the Angels in a 17-inning loss to the Brewers in 2004.

Leading the way for the Rays tonight was David Price, who fanned 11 in seven innings. It was his third double-digit strikeout game of the year. The bullpen racked up 10 more K’s from there, with Wade Davis striking out the side in his inning of work.

Josh Reddick and Brandon Inge fanned four times apiece for the A’s. Weeks was 0-for-7 with two strikeouts before ending the game with a sac fly in the bottom of the 15th.

Report: Yankees acquire James Paxton from the Mariners

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Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that the Yankees have acquired starter James Paxton from the Mariners. Corey Brock of The Athletic reports that the Mariners will be receiving three prospects from the Yankees: pitcher Justus Sheffield, outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams, and pitcher Erik Swanson.

Paxton, 30, has been among the game’s better starters over the past few years. In 2018, he went 11-6 with a 3.76 ERA and a 208/42 K/BB ratio in 160 1/3 innings. The lefty has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining after earning $4.9 million this past season.

Sheffield, 22, is the headliner in the Mariners’ return. He made his major league debut in September for the Yankees, pitching 2 2/3 innings across three appearances. Two of those appearances were scoreless; in the third, he gave up a three-run home run to J.D. Martinez, certainly not an uncommon result among pitchers. MLB Pipeline rates Sheffield as the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect and No. 31 overall in baseball.

Thompson-Williams, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. This past season, between Single-A Charleston and High-A Tampa, he hit .299/.363/.546 with 22 home runs, 74 RBI, 63 runs scored, and 20 stolen bases in 415 plate appearances. He was not among the Yankees’ top-30 prospects, per MLB Pipeline.

Swanson, 25, was selected by the Yankees in the eighth round of the 2014 draft. He spent most of his 2018 campaign between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Overall, he posted a 2.66 ERA with a 139/29 K/BB ratio in 121 2/3 innings. MLB Pipeline rated him No. 22 in the Yankees’ system.

This trade comes as no surprise as the Yankees clearly wanted to upgrade the starting rotation and the Mariners seemed motivated to trade Paxton this offseason. To the Mariners’ credit, they got a good return for Paxton, as Sheffield likely becomes the organization’s No. 1 prospect. The only worry about this trade for the Yankees is how Paxton will fare in the more hitter-friendly confines of Yankee Stadium compared to the spacious Safeco Field. The Yankees are likely not done adding, however. Expect even more new faces before the start of spring training.