Braves closer Craig Kimbrel struck out three out of the four Pirates he faced Wednesday to become the first pitcher in major league history to fan at least half of the batters he faced.
Kimbrel racked up 116 strikeouts while facing 231 batters. That’s more than four strikeouts for each of the 27 hits he allowed. He struck out more than eight times as many batters as he walked (14), which is perhaps the most stunning stat of all for those of us who saw him as a prospect a few years back. He walked fewer batters in 62 2/3 innings this year than he did in 20 2/3 innings (16) following his arrival to the majors in 2010.
The record Kimbrel set today barely even requires a minimum-inning requirement. Not only is Kimbrel the first to do it in minimum 50 or 60 innings, but he’d be the first to do it with a minimum of six innings. Francisco Rodriguez struck out 13 of the 21 batters he faced after joining the Angels in Sept. 2002. He pitched 5 2/3 innings that month before becoming a postseason hero. No one else has done it over as few as three innings.
Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.
The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.
The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.
In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.