Last night Jason Schmidt struck out 16 Marlins in a complete game 2-1 victory and was mobbed at the mound before being doused with champaign in the clubhouse.
Now, this may seem a bit odd considering that 16 strikeouts is not exactly a major league record, but Schmidt was the first Giant to do it since Christy Matthewson in 1904. More importantly, perhaps, is the fact that in recent years almost no pitcher is left in a game long enough to even approach 16 Ks.
The fact is, strikeouts require a lot of pitches – usually at least 4 or 5 per batter. And in this day and age where the cult of the 100-pitch-limit reigns supreme, pitchers who rack up a lot of punchouts tend to get pulled by the 6th inning because they also rack up huge pitch counts.
It used to be, even just a few years ago, that veteran pitchers would be allowed to stay in games past 100 pitches, and even younger pitchers would be allowed to stay in until 120 or so if they were pitching a shutout or something. But this year we have being seeing even long-time veterans get pulled in the 6th inning when their pitch count gets over the century mark, even when they are pitching a shutout or have a huge lead.
Last night, Jason Schmidt threw 124 pitches. This is a paltry amount when you consider that as recently as a few years back Randy Johnson threw 161 pitches in a game, and Nolan Ryan used to somewhat regularly cross the 200-pitch mark a decade ago.
And yet, I would bet that there is no other manager in the game today other than Felipe Alou who would have left Schmidt in the game in the 9th inning after he had already thrown well over 100 pitches and then gave up consecutive leadoff singles and wild pitched the runners to 2nd and 3rd with no outs in a 2-1 ballgame.
But Felipe left Schmidt in the game, and he proceed to strike out the heart of the Marlins lineup in order.
16 strikouts in the game. Enjoy that number guys, because it may be a long, long time before anyone ever approaches it again.