Royals

The Rundown: Strikeouts pile up in April

Updated: 2013-05-05T00:36:59Z

By PETE GRATHOFF

The Kansas City Star

There is a breeze going through the majors this season.

It’s not the cold winds that hit Kauffman Stadium this week. It’s batters around baseball swinging and missing at a prodigious rate.

Here are just a few examples: Royals closer Greg Holland struck out nine of the 10 batters he faced during one stretch. Detroit’s Anibal Sanchez fanned 17 in eight innings in one outing. Against Boston, the Indians’ bullpen fanned 15 of 30 batters it faced.

All told, the 5,992 strikeouts in April were the highest in major-league history for that month, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Last year, 12 pitchers struck out more than 200 batters. That’s noteworthy, because former Royals ace Bret Saberhagen never hit that mark despite winning a pair of Cy Young awards. In 1989, Saberhagen finished third in strikeouts in the AL with 193, trailing Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens.

“You’ve got to understand that these guys are throwing the ball a lot harder,” Saberhagen said by phone. “If you were throwing 95 (mph) back when I was playing in the 80s or early 90s, it was pretty hard. Now you get guys throwing 100 plus, so you’ve got a lot more velocity going on. I think that stuff kind of comes and goes in cycles. You get some pitchers who have some pretty good stuff and have some success with strikeouts.”

While it was a punchline in a movie, Saberhagen kind of does think that of strikeouts as facist.

“I wasn’t a strikeout pitcher by any teams. I was more of a control pitcher who pitched to contact and I wanted to get the inning over as soon as possible where it be a groundball, a pop-up or a double-play ball,” he said. “I never looked to get a strikeout until I got two strikes or if a situation called for it before that at-bat. For instance, you have the bases loaded and nobody out so you want a strikeout.

“For the most part, I wanted to have my pitch count down and I wanted to be able to finish the nine innings off with a reasonable pitch count. Guys who get a lot of strikeouts, normally don’t complete a lot of games, because they’re up in their pitch count.”

In his two Cy Young seasons Saberhagen had 12 complete games (1989) and 10 (1985) as well as 15 in 1987. Last year, only three pitchers had as many as five.

Three up

• In his last two starts, Washington’s Jordan Zimmerman is 2-0 and hasn’t allowed a run in 17 innings. In those starts, he gave up three hits with 12 strikeouts and one walk.

• Heading into Saturday’s games, Cleveland’s Ryan Raburn was batting .632 (12 for 19) with four homers, a double and nine RBIs

• Cardinals starter Lance Lynn has won his last 10 decisions, and in his last 35 starts dating to last season, is 22-5 with a 3.15 ERA.

Three down

• In his last 13 games, the Phillies’ Ben Revere is batting .174

• Jon Morosi noted that Toronto has a .473 OPS from its No. 5 batters this season. That is the worst mark in baseball.

• Arizona’s J.J. Putz has four blown saves this season, one fewer than he had in all of 2012 and the same number he had in 2011.

Statistically speaking

• In 10 of the Rays’ 15 losses this season, they’ve held the lead at some point.

• A’s outfielder Brandon Moss hit a walk-off homer in the 19th inning Monday night/Tuesday morning, just the eighth major-leaguer to hit a walk-off homer in the 19th inning or later.

• The Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen has a career OPS of 1.448 against Washington, the highest ever by a Nationals opponent. Jim Edmonds (1.193) is second.

• The Orioles are 1-2 in extra innings this year after going 16-2 in extras last year.

On deck

• With two stolen bases, Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler will break the Rangers/Senators franchise record of 161 held by Bump Wills.

• Atlanta travels to San Francisco on Thursday for the start of a four-game series between division leaders.

• Detroit’s Justin Verlander is five strikeouts shy of 1,500 for his career.

You need to know

• Boston’s David Ortiz carried a 23-game hitting streak into Saturday, and the streak started on July 2, 2012. Three stints on the disabled list because of an Achilles’ injury last year is why the the streak is in its 11th month.

• The Rays’ Matt Moore joined Babe Ruth, Fernando Valenzuela, Dwight Gooden, Dontrelle Willis and Greg Swindell as the only pitchers since 1916 to go 5-0 in April before turning 24.

• With Jason Motte out for the year because of Tommy John surgery, Edward Mujica is the Cardinals’ closer.

• For his walk-up music for his at-bats, Prince Fielder has part of Mozart’s Requiem played on the public-address system at Comerica Park.

Words of wisdom

“He doesn’t think I can hit. I still don’t know if he thinks I can hit. We’ll be out in the backyard playing ball, and he’ll go, ‘I’m going to hit like you, Dad.’ He’ll act like he’s going to hit and then he’ll just bunt. He said, ‘All you ever do is bunt.’ I was like, wait a minute. You’ve got to look at my scrapbook, kid.”

| Braves pitcher Tim Hudson, who hit a homer and double when he won his 200th career game, on his son, Kade

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