Chris Sale's 270th strikeout breaks 107-year-old White Sox record

ByDoug Padilla ESPN logo
Saturday, October 3, 2015

CHICAGO -- The White Sox's strikeout record lasted 107 years, until Chris Sale finally toppled the mark Friday.

With his third strikeout of the night against the Detroit Tigers, Sale reached 270 for the season, passing the previous club record of 269 set by Ed Walsh in 1908. Walsh set his record in 464 innings, while Sale needed 203 innings to best it.

"It's awesome, something that hasn't set in yet, but I know what it means, I know what it is. I'm very thankful for it and appreciative of it," said Sale, who finished with seven strikeouts, one walk and five hits over seven innings in a 2-1 win over Detroit.

"There's a lot of stuff going on," Sale said. "I couldn't really pitch until I got [the record] and after that I settled in. It was fun. It was a great experience, something I'll never forget."

Sale's previous best was 226, set in 2013, but he has been on a strikeout barrage this season. He fanned 10 or more batters in eight consecutive starts from May 23 to June 30, tying Pedro Martinez (1999) for the longest such streak in major league history.

Sale also struck out 12 batters or more over five straight starts to match Martinez and Randy Johnson as the only pitchers to accomplish that feat.

Manager Robin Ventura said the feat was especially impressive because the early part of Sale's season was hampered by a broken bone in his right foot from an accident at home in February.

"I think when you add in that he didn't really have a spring training -- a normal spring training -- to be able to come back and do this is special. It just puts him up there with the elite," Ventura said. "Tonight, it just seemed like there was a little something extra in there, even right from the start. Sometimes you sit there and wonder -- three strikeouts can be tough -- but he went right after it, I thought. He laid it all out there. He was gassed by the end of it."

At the start of Friday's game, only three left-handers since 2004 had more strikeouts in a season: Clayton Kershaw (294 in 2015), Johnson (290 in 2004) and David Price (271 in 2014).

Sale's average of 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings is a White Sox record and the highest in the major leagues since Johnson had a 13.41 mark in 2001.

CatcherTyler Flowersthinks Sale is capable of continuing this kind of performance.

"I think he's growing. He's still pretty young," Flowers said. "He's a guy that tries to improve in every aspect, and I think that's included in the makeup of the person, the athlete. He's always looking to get better and I think that's why he's so consistently successful."

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