BOSTON (CBS) — Chris Sale has been the Red Sox’ strikeout king so far this season, but on Thursday night it was Drew Pomeranz & Co. delivering punchout after punchout.
The Red Sox combined for 20 strikeouts among five pitchers in their 6-2 win over the Texas Rangers at Fenway Park on Thursday. It tied the major-league record for a nine-inning game that Roger Clemens set by himself (twice) for the Red Sox in 1986 and 1996.
Drew Pomeranz set things in motion with 11 strikeouts in just six innings of work. Then Heath Hembree, Robby Scott, and Matt Barnes kept it going with five combined strikeouts in just two innings.
The record wasn’t exactly within reach when the team got to 16 strikeouts in eight innings, but Craig Kimbrel ended up recording the rare four-strikeout inning to close the game out and tie the record. However, Kimbrel got plenty of help from the home plate umpire, who ruled a pitch that hit the Rangers’ Nomar Mazara in the ankle a strikeout and wild pitch. (Click here to watch all 20 strikeouts.)
Kimbrel’s four-strikeout inning was the first since Tim Wakefield did it on Aug. 10, 1999 (h/t MLB.com) against the Kansas City Royals. They are the only two pitchers in franchise history to pull it off.
The Red Sox have tied the major-league record of 20 strikeouts three of the six times that it’s happened in a nine-inning game. The Washington Nationals’ Max Scherzer did it just last season on May 11, when he struck out 20 Detroit Tigers in a complete game win. The last team to combine for 20 strikeouts was the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who struck out 20 Seattle Mariners on Sept. 25, 2012.