Rookie Hurler Burns Name Into MLB Record Books With 24 Straight Strikes

Seattle Mariners right-hander George Kirby surrendered five hits and one run before throwing his first ball in the third inning

George Kirby of the Mariners throws a strike.
George Kirby of the Mariners was dealing early against the Nationals.
Alika Jenner/Getty

Though his team ended up losing when Ildemaro Vargas hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning that lifted the Washington Nationals to a 3-1 win on Wednesday, Seattle Mariners rookie George Kirby had nothing to hang his head about after starting the game with a record-setting performance on the mound.

Kirby, who struck out nine in seven innings and gave up a single run on eight hits without a walk, set a major league record by throwing 24 straight strikes to start the game. Though he gave up five hits during his 24-pitch run, Kirby did not throw a pitch that was ruled to be a ball by the home-plate umpire until the third inning. (Pitches that result in hits or outs are considered strikes regardless of whether they are located inside or out of the strike zone.)

The commitment of Kirby, who has 102 strikeouts compared to just 13 walks and an ERA of 3.32 on the season, to pounding hitters with strikes is proof that the Seattle pitching staff’s mantra of “Dominate The Zone” is paying dividends.

“They’ve been preaching it since Day 1, and it’s something that I’ve really held true to myself. I just go out there and attack. You can’t do too bad just throwing strikes. That’s the name of the game now,” he said. “Just attack. That’s what I’ve been doing my whole life. I really try and just hammer the corners, just really quality strikes, that’s kind of what I’ve been focused on. Sometimes, you throw one down the middle.”

It was a night of firsts for young players in MLB as second-year shortstop Oneil Cruz made history when he turned on a first-pitch slider from Kyle Wright of the Braves and hit it harder than any ball in Statcast history has ever been struck.

Although the young Pirate only ended up with a single, his 122.4 mph blast nearly went out of PNC Park but instead hit off a 21-foot-wall in right field. Per Statcast, Cruz’s single would have been a home run in 26 ballparks.

“When I came into the dugout, some of my teammates shared with me that I hit it 122 [mph],” Cruz said. “I smiled, but deep down inside I was like, ‘Wow, I really hit that ball hard.’ Now, finding out that I broke a record, it means a lot to me. That’s something positive to take away from today’s game.”

That was the only positive to take as the Pirates were bludgeoned by the Braves 14-2.

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