The Boston Red Sox's Chris Sale became the fastest pitcher in MLB history to reach 2,000 career strikeouts in Boston's 10-inning 7-6 win over the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night at Progressive Field.
The 30-year-old southpaw struck out 12 in 6.2 innings, but it was his punchout of Indians outfielder Oscar Mercado that accomplished the feat:
Sale also allowed three earned runs on five hits and didn't earn a decision, as Brandon Workman was credited with the win.
According to MLB Stats, Sale bested former Red Sox Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez, who registered 2,000 strikeouts in 1,711.1 innings pitched. ESPN noted that Randy Johnson reached 2,000 strikeouts in 1,733.1 innings and that Max Scherzer did it in 1,784.
Sale was nonchalant about the feat, saying: "It's cool. I think it's special" (h/t NBC Sports Boston).
The seven-time All-Star's 12-strikeout performance followed his 13 strikeouts against the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 8, a game that produced a different career milestone:
Overall, 2019 has been a down year for Sale, as he's posted a 6-11 record and 4.40 ERA. Strikeouts haven't been the issue, though, as his average of 13.18 K's per nine innings leads the league.
Following the game, manager Alex Cora commented on Sale's accomplishment.
"It's been a grind this year, but there's been some cool things about him," the second-year manager told reporters. "The pitcher is amazing, the person is better. There's a guy that I really respect. We have a great relationship. This guy, he shows up every single day—regardless if he pitches or not, he's pulling for his teammates. He's doing everything possible for us to win, and I'm very proud."
The reigning champion Red Sox need Sale at the top of his game down the stretch. Boston owns a 63-59 record, which has it 17.5 games back in the American League East and eight games behind in the AL wild-card race.