On Friday, Chris Sale did what Chris Sale does best: demolish MLB records that he already holds. The Red Sox hurler hit the 200-strikeout mark in 136 innings, faster than any MLB pitcher this season and also faster than any other pitcher in AL history. Per MLB.com’s Ian Browne, it’s a record the lefty already held: He became the fastest pitcher to 200 strikeouts all the way back in… well, 2017, when he reached that mark in just 141 1/3 innings.
Fans didn’t have to wait long for the record-setting whiff this time around. It came during the first frame of Friday’s game against the Twins, on a 99.4-m.p.h. fastball that blew past Mitch Garver to bring the inning to a close.
Sale delivered an even 10 strikeouts in six innings, holding the Twins scoreless on three hits and two walks. He got into a little bit of hot water in the fourth inning after issuing a walk to Ehire Adrianza, plunking Max Kepler, and walking Robbie Grossman to load the bases, but wriggled out of that jam with another full-count, inning-ending strikeout against Jake Cave. Saturday marked the southpaw’s 10th outing with 10+ strikeouts and his sixth scoreless outing of the year.
The Red Sox’ ace may have been the first to reach the 200-strikeout plateau on Friday, but he wasn’t the only one. Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer delivered an equally masterful performance against the Marlins (on his 34th birthday, to boot), tossing eight innings of three-hit, one-run, 11-strikeout ball for his 14th win of the year. His last at-bat of the night — a called strikeout against Spencer Kieboom in the top of the ninth — yielded the last strikeout he needed to reach no. 200. He’s now racked up 200+ strikeouts in the past seven consecutive MLB seasons and is tied for the second-longest run in major league history. He’ll need to repeat the feat in 2019 and 2020 to tie Tom Seaver’s all-time record of nine straight seasons.
Three other pitchers are nearing the 200-strikeout plateau as well: the Indians’ Trevor Bauer (192), Astros’ Gerrit Cole (186) and Justin Verlander (183). Neither Bauer nor Cole are scheduled to pitch this weekend, however, and while Verlander is penciled in for Saturday’s game against the Rangers’ Ariel Jurado, it would take a record performance to bridge a 17-strikeout gap during this series.