Michael Wacha of the St. Louis Cardinals became the third pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) to record 10 or more strikeouts in four or fewer innings pitched Wednesday night against the New York Mets, per Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN.com). He also became the first pitcher in Cardinals history to strike out nine batters in the first three innings.
This rare pitching line is a fairly new phenomenon, as Danny Salazar of the Cleveland Indians most recently met the criteria April 10 against the Chicago White Sox, recording 3.2 innings pitched and 10 strikeouts. Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners accomplished this feat on Sept. 22, 2013 against the Los Angeles Angels, striking out 10 batters over four innings.
Although Wacha had only allowed two earned runs on three hits in the game, he surrendered five walks, which gave him a pitch count of 93 through four innings. The high number of pitches led Cardinals manager Mike Matheny to lift Wacha for pinch hitter Kolten Wong in the top of the fifth inning. Wacha was later dealt the loss and now owns a 2-2 record through five starts.
The double-digit strikeout performance was Wacha's first such game this season, although he has recorded seven or more Ks in four of his five starts to start the year. The 22-year-old never reached 10 or more punch-outs over nine regular-season starts in 2013. Wednesday's performance brings his K/9 up to 10.5 on the year, to go along with a 35:8 K:BB ratio.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference unless otherwise noted.