The Tampa Bay Rays pitching staff struck out 287 batters in June, setting a new MLB record for most strikeouts by a team in one calendar month, according to MLB.com. The previous record of 286 was set in August 2002 by the Chicago Cubs, who rode the right arms of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior into the record books.
It looked like the Rays would fall just short of the milestone Monday night, as they carried a 3-2 lead into the ninth inning against the New York Yankees in their final game of the month. Entering the inning with 283 punchouts in June, Tampa Bay needed Joel Peralta to strike out the side just to match the Cubs' historic mark.
Instead, Peralta struck out just one batter but also surrendered a game-tying solo home run to Yankees second baseman Brian Roberts, thus sending the contest into extra innings. Tampa's Grant Balfour fanned a pair of batters in the 10th inning to tie the 2002 Cubs record then gave way to Brad Boxberger for the 11th and 12th frames.
After Boxberger failed to record a K in the 11th, the Rays took a 4-3 lead in the top of the 12th thanks to an RBI single from Logan Forsythe. Needing just one strikeout to make history, Boxberger fanned future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki to lead off the bottom of the 12th. Once the game finished with a pair of groundouts, the Rays went home with both a victory and the MLB record for most strikeouts in a calendar month.
While it was Boxberger on the hill for the historic punchout, starting pitcher David Price was the catalyst behind Tampa Bay's record-setting month. The 6'6" lefty fanned double-digit batters in each of his five June starts, finishing the month with 54 strikeouts in just 39.2 innings.
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