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.
The Yankees defeated the Astros 4-1 during Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night, staving off a potential postseason elimination and forcing the series to at least six games.
In just the third playoff appearance of his career, Yankees southpaw James Paxton turned in another impressive performance, limiting the Astros to four hits and four walks over six innings of one-run ball. According to MLB Stats, his nine strikeouts made him the second Yankees lefty to record multiple starts of 8+ strikeouts in the same postseason campaign, two decades after David Wells did so for the 1998 championship-winning club.
Paxton’s strong outing was backed by a handful of runs from DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks, both of whom went deep against Astros ace Justin Verlander in the bottom of the first inning. LeMahieu’s leadoff solo shot marked his first postseason home run since Game 1 of the ALDS, while Hicks’ three-run 347-footer was his first home run of any variety since July 24 (and his first in the playoffs since the 2017 ALDS).
Neither team managed a single run after the first inning, leaving the two pitching staffs to duke it out for eight quick innings. Verlander outlasted Paxton — taking the game through the seventh with five hits, four runs, and nine strikeouts — but even with a flawless contribution from Brad Peacock in the eighth, there was little the hurlers could do to help the Astros solve Paxton and an airtight Yankees bullpen.
With the win, the Yankees will try to push the series to a full seven games in order to snatch the AL pennant from the Astros. They’ll have to do in Houston, however, as the Astros will regain home field advantage when Game 6 kicks off on Saturday at 8:08 PM EDT. Neither starter has been announced yet; per Houston skipper A.J. Hinch, it will likely be a bullpen day.