A brief history of 20 strikeout games
Strikeouts are sexy. Well at least according to the Washington Nationals’ star pitcher Max Scherzer. He would know too. On Wednesday night Scherzer struck out 20 Detroit Tigers during a nine-inning game.
“Tonight, at the end of the night, was a special night,” Scherzer said. “Because, I mean, the strikeouts are sexy. And to be able to punch out 20 — it’s sexy.”
He tied the MLB record for most K’s in a nine-inning game. The only other people to do so are Roger “The Rocket” Clemens, who accomplished the feat twice in 1986 and again in 1996 while playing for the Boston Red Sox and Kerry Wood of the Chicago Cubs, who struck out 20 Houston Astros batters in 1998.
Of course there is everyone’s hero and beloved 6’10” right-hander Randy “The Big Unit” Johnson. On May 8, 2001, while a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Johnson struck out 20 Cincinnati Reds batters within nine innings.If you want to get technical about it – two others have done it as well but their records are differently labeled.
Unfortunately for Johnson, the game went into extra innings. Johnson didn’t need more than nine innings to accrue his 20 K’s, but since the went into extra innings the game is not considered an “official” 20-strikeout game by MLB.
Still it is considered by almost everyone else as the same record that Wood, Clemens and Scherzer now hold.
There was one other man that struck out over 20 batters in one game and there is a good chance that you’ve never heard his name before. Tom Cheney struck out 21 batters once on September 12, 1962 while playing for the Washington Senators but that’s a record of it’s own too because it took extra innings for him to accomplish that feat.