A 21-K game not a matter of 'if,' but 'when' – MLB.com

The day is coming. Some team is going to strike out 21 Major Leaguers in a nine-inning game. It would be wonderful if it was one pitcher who did it but, well, that part’s harder. We will get to that in a bit. But the point remains: The 21-blackjack-strikeout game is coming.

It is just a matter of when.

If you are up on your baseball achievements, you can probably name all four pitchers who have struck out 20 batters in a game. Max Scherzer was the last to do it, back in 2016, and before that you had Randy Johnson in 2001, Kerry Wood on that famous day 20 years ago and Roger Clemens twice.

In addition to those individual games of brilliance, the Red Sox last May struck out 20 Rangers. It took five pitchers to do it, yes, but 20 strikeouts is 20 strikeouts … and it’s still tied for the record.

Video: [email protected]: Watch the Red Sox fan 20 in 20 seconds

Well, that record cannot stand for much longer. Look around: We live in the strikeout zone. At this exact moment, teams are striking out 8.7 times per game, way up from last year’s record pace of 8.3 per game, which was way up from 2016’s record pace of 8 per game, which was way up from 2015’s record 7.7 per game. Baseball’s strikeout record has been broken 10 times in the last 10 seasons, which looks an awful lot like a trend.

Twenty-one strikeouts in a game is coming. The only questions are when, and how many pitchers it will take to do it.


Our strikeout story should begin with someone you probably have never heard of (unless you happen to be this guy, Old Hoss Radbourn). Charlie Sweeney and Radbourn were the

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