Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Vance Worley had an odd Monday night, becoming the first hurler since at least 1900 to record eight or more strikeouts during a start in which he gave up six or more runs in the first inning, per Elias Sports Bureau.
Worley's night at PNC Park started in the worst fashion imaginable, as he gave up solo home runs to the Atlanta Braves' first two batters of the game, outfielder Jason Heyward and light-hitting shortstop Andrelton Simmons. Heyward's long ball was his first since July 18 and 10th of the season while Simmons' was his first since June 10 and sixth of the season,
The nightmare didn't end there, as Worley proceeded to allow a walk to first baseman Freddie Freeman, a single to outfielder Justin Upton and an infield single to third baseman Chris Johnson before finally striking out second baseman Tommy La Stella for the first out of the game. Following an RBI single by catcher Gerald Laird and an RBI groundout from pitcher Ervin Santana—aided by a Pittsburgh error—the Braves held a 6-0 lead after the top of the first inning.
While the deficit proved too much for the Pirates to rebound from, Worley bounced back nicely on a personal level, recording seven strikeouts over five scoreless innings the rest of the way, albeit in a 7-3 Pirates loss.
While such a peculiarity can never be expected, Worley was facing the right team to grab an odd piece of strikeout-related history. The Braves have struck out in 22.6 percent of their plate appearances this season, ranking 27th in the majors and ahead of only the Houston Astros (23.1), Chicago Cubs (23.2) and Miami Marlins (23.3). Atlanta also ranks a miserable 28th in the majors in runs scored (470) this season and is sitting in the bottom 10 for batting average (.246), on-base percentage (.310) and slugging percentage (.372).
The eight strikeouts represent Worley's highest single-game total since July 20, 2012, when he fanned nine San Francisco Giants while pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies. In between that outing and Monday's, the right-hander went 27 consecutive starts without once recording eight or more strikeouts.