Chris Sale set what was effectively the White Sox' modern-day strikeout record two years ago when he fanned 226 over 214⅓ innings.
He no longer needs the modifier. In the second inning of tonight's game against the Tigers, the Condor froze James McCann with a backdoor slider for his 270th strikeout, giving him sole possession of the single-season strikeout record that Ed Walsh held since 1908. Fittingly, it was a pitch that Tyler Flowers, the guy who has caught every pitch Sale's thrown this year, eased back into the strike zone:
Sale tried to achieve the record in style. After he got ahead on McCann 1-2, he spent his first bullet on an eephus pitch, which would've been glorious if it had worked:
He came close on the second pitch, a slider down in the zone on which McCann successfully checked his swing. The third one was good for his third strikeout of the game, and a new White Sox record.
The "modern-day" record was a significant accomplishment in its own right, since Walsh had owned the four highest single-season strikeout totals. As the ace of those great early White Sox teams, he threw more than 368 innings in each of those seasons, including 464 in 1908. Sale eclipsed Walsh's record in his 203rd inning.
Postgame update: Sale ended up striking out seven over seven innings and picking up the win in a 2-1 victory over the Tigers. He finished his 2015 season with 274 strikeouts over 208⅔ innings.
The new franchise leaderboard:
CHRIS SALE, 274, 2015
- Ed Walsh, 269, 1908
- Ed Walsh, 258, 1910
- Ed Walsh, 255, 1911
- Ed Walsh, 254, 1912
For more on Walsh, check out the story from his Hall of Fame library player file.