Rangers starter Mike Minor reached a career milestone during Thursday afternoon’s start against the Red Sox, recording his 200th strikeout of the season. It’s the first time he has reached the 200-strikeout plateau in his career. The Rangers certainly helped Minor get to 200.
Minor entered the start at 191 strikeouts, meaning he needed nine to get to his milestone. He entered the top of the ninth inning with eight. Sandy León flied out to left field to begin the inning, bringing up Chris Owings. With a 1-1 count, Owings popped up a change-up about halfway up the first base line, just barely in foul territory. First baseman Ronald Guzmán didn’t make much of an effort to catch the pop-up, which hit the dirt for strike two. The Rangers’ broadcast showed Joey Gallo enthusiastically clapping in support of what just happened, which made Guzmán’s lack of effort seem all the more intentional. Minor then got over another change-up, high and inside, which Owings took for strike three, giving Minor his ninth strikeout of the game and his 200th of the season. The ball was out of the strike zone but Minor got help from home plate umpire CB Bucknor.
You can see No. 200 around the 1:45 mark in this video:
Red Sox manager Alex Cora wasn’t happy about the Rangers’ attempt to get Minor his milestone, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports. For what it’s worth, Rangers manager Chris Woodward also wasn’t happy about it, per Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Woodward, however, said the Red Sox set the tone by wildly swinging to avoid striking out in the eighth inning, which is bizarre as well.
Baseball players, famously, have unwritten rules to police behavior on the field which are largely pointless and archaic. Cora and Woodward’s distaste with the other side’s behavior should come as no surprise, even if it is… bizarre.
At the end of the day, neither side was playing for anything more than pride. Minor, who can become a free agent after the 2020 season, turns 32 years old in December. Reaching 200 innings and 200 strikeouts may actually help him leverage a better contract going into the 2021 season. Rationally, 199 innings and 199 strikeouts isn’t much worse than 200/200 but humans love nice, round numbers. So good for Minor for getting there and good for his teammates for supporting him in his pursuit, even if it involved a little gamesmanship.
Minor, by the way, was taken out after getting that strikeout. On the afternoon, he allowed five runs on 10 hits and two walks with nine strikeouts across 8 2/3 innings. He’ll end 2019 with a 14-10 record, a 3.59 ERA, and a 200/68 K/BB ratio in 208 1/3 innings.