The Cubs and Yankees Made History During Their 18-Inning Marathon
If you felt a strong breeze repeatedly as you slept on Sunday night, it likely was not a change in the weather pattern or the return of El Nino. No, it was likely caused by the swings and misses coming out of the Windy City in the series finale between the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs.
The Bronx Bomers competed a sweep of the defending world champs in a game that took more than six hours to complete, finally winning 5-4 in 18 innings. The two clubs essentially played a doubleheader without ever stopping.
OH, SO YOU LIKE BASEBALL, DO YOU? pic.twitter.com/MZ7sXVOFC1
— Jonah Keri (@jonahkeri) May 8, 2017
Everyone knows the strikeout has become prevalent in baseball nowadays. In 1987, the league-average strikeout percentage was 15.5%. Today it's 21.5%, which is a staggering increase. It went to another level on Sunday night, though, as these two ball clubs set a new record for whiffs in a single game.
The @Yankees & @Cubs record 44th strikeout, set new @MLB record for Ks in a game -- topping 1971 Angels-A's matchup that went 20 innings. pic.twitter.com/ooguD3bJ1H
— MLB Stat of the Day (@MLBStatoftheDay) May 8, 2017
They combined for 48 strikeouts, with starters Jon Lester and Luis Severino each notching nine before exiting the madness. Six New York relievers combined to whiff an additional 17 Cubs, while seven Chicago relievers combined to collect 13 strikeouts. In all, the Cubs struck out 26 times, while the Yankees "only" whiffed 22 times.
New York's 22 punch outs were the most by a winning team since the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Los Angeles Angels in June of 2004, and they became just the fourth team since 1913 to strikeout 22 times and win. It was also just the second time in MLB history that both teams struck out at least 20 times while facing one another. The other was in June of 2001 when the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants pulled off that feat.
Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks scored the game-winning run in the 18th, but he also struck out four times in six at-bats. Third baseman Chase Headley also went down on strikes four times, but he notched seven plate appearances. No other Yankee went down via strikes more than twice.
Chicago didn't have anyone strikeout four times, but the top three hitters in the lineup, Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, all struck out three times, as did Addison Russell and Willson Contreras.
Upon the beginning of extra innings, when Brett Gardner was called out on strikes, to the first out in the bottom of the 11th, when Albert Almora Jr. went down looking, 10 straight batters struck out.
Strikeouts are a lot of fun to watch when elite pitchers are blowing guys away with gas. They're a bit less impressive in the 16th inning when teams are dying to scratch a single run across the plate.
Either way, it was a record-setting night at Wrigley Field, one for which the Windy City was the appropriate home.