FORT MYERS, Fla. – Playing in front of many friends and family members, former FGCU baseball and current Chicago White Sox lefty Chris Sale recorded 15 strikeouts on Monday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Rays, establishing a new Tropicana Field single-game record.
Pitching in the 1,157th game at the Trop, Sale, making only his ninth major league start, topped the previous mark for punch outs of 14, set July 7, 2009, by Boston's Pedro Martinez.
Ironically, Sale also holds the FGCU single-game strikeout record of 15, which he set in a complete-game one hitter against Belmont in 2010.
Just one strikeout shy of the White Sox team record, the Lakeland, Fla. product went 7.1 innings, allowing just three hits and a pair of walks. Accounting for one of the strikeouts, Rays’ right fielder Ben Zobrist went 2-for-4 with a run scored, however, the rest of the lineup went a combined 1-for-22 with 14 strikeouts.
Sale, along with Rays’ starter Matt Moore (10 strikeouts), recorded the most strikeouts by a pair of starting pitchers in the majors since Sept. 20, 2009, when Florida's Ricky Nolasco (16 strikeouts) and Atlanta's Javier Vazquez (nine) also combined for 25.
It was also the most combined strikeouts by two starting pitchers in an American League game since May 6, 2000, when Martinez (17) and Tampa Bay's Steve Trachsel (11) combined for 28.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, the last time two starters 23 or younger combined for 25 strikeouts was July 31, 1901, when the Chicago Orphans' Tom Hughes (15) and Cincinnati's Noodles Hahn (11). The last time starters 23 or younger each had at least 10 strikeouts was July 21, 1971, when Cleveland's Steve Dunning struck out 10 and Oakland's Vida Blue fanned 11.
This season, Sale (6-2) ranks among the league leaders in several statistical categories. He is currently tied for seventh in the league with six victories, and is eighth in the majors with a 2.34 ERA. Additionally, Sale holds a WHIP of 1.01, good for 12 in the MLB, and his .198 opponent batting average is ninth. With 61 strikeouts in 57.1 innings of work, the 2010 Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Year is also sixth in the league in strikeouts per nine innings at 9.52.