Some people don't love strikeouts. (Hi, Rob Neyer.) I, however, do love strikeouts. That's why, even though it means I'll need to watch the Mariners attempt to play baseball*, I'll take some time on Thursday to view Wednesday night's contest between the Tigers and M's, in which the two teams combined for a near-record 40 punch outs.
*Deep breath, you can do this.
They had 14 innings to do it, so things weren't so extreme that 40 of the minimum 54 outs came via whiff, but still: 40 strikeouts is a ridiculous sum. In the only game with more strikeouts, it took the Athletics and Angels 20 innings to rack up 43 strikeouts (in which Vida Blue pitched 11 shutout innings while striking out 17). Tigers' starter Max Scherzer and Mariners' ace Felix Hernandez got things started with 12 strikeouts a piece, the first time that two starters have managed at least 12 while opposing each other since 2003, when the Cubs' featured Mark Prior and the now-defunct Expos' had Javier Vazquez on the mound, and the pair punched out 26. However, the two teams struck out just 27 total -- that was nowhere close to last night's match-up.
The Mariners bullpen used five different pitchers after Hernandez completed eight frames, and all but one of them -- Blake Beavan -- struck out at least one hitter. The group combined for nine whiffs, though, Charlie Furbush's three strikeouts didn't help him avoid taking the loss. The Tigers used seven relievers after Scherzer, and five of those recorded a strikeout. Oddly, Joaquin Benoit and Octavio Dotel, two of the relievers in the league better-known for their propensity to K the opposition, were the two who went whiffless. Despite this, the Tigers pen still notched seven strikeouts as a unit, and their performance led to a Detroit victory.
Maybe if Benoit and Dotel had tried a little harder, we could have had a record-setting night of 44 strikeouts in addition to the Tigers' win. Thanks a lot, guys. And you too, Blake Beavan. Don't think we've forgotten that unnecessary zero from your line.