Chris Sale‘s American League Cy Young Award push now includes an arbitrary, yet telling, milestone.
The Boston Red Sox pitcher became the fastest ever to reach 1,500 career strikeouts, doing so during his Tuesday night start against the Toronto Blue Jays. Sale set this record in Canada at Rogers Centre.
The 28-year-old left-hander entered the game needing three strikeouts to reach 1,500 for his career. He fanned one Blue Jays batter in the first inning and recorded two more in the second. Boston’s No. 1 starter surpassed former Chicago Cubs ace Kerry Wood to reach this point. Wood recorded strikeout No. 1,500 in 1,303 innings. Sale did not beat that by much but got there in 1,289.2 frames.
There it is — career strikeout No. 1,500 for Sale. Fastest to reach that number. Took 1,289.2 innings. Previous best: 1,303 for Kerry Wood
— Sean McAdam (@Sean_McAdam) August 29, 2017
Sale struck out Jose Bautista and Kevin Pillar in the second, with a called third strike to ring up Pillar doubling as the record-breaker.
The former White Sox dynamo reached this standard far earlier in his career than Wood did, however.
Wood’s career represents a cautionary tale. He did not eclipse 1,500 Ks until the 2010 season — far after injuries hijacked his prime. The one-time Cubs ace was on pace to reach this milestone in the mid-2000s. He reeled off four 200-plus-K seasons in his first five campaigns, but after managing 144 strikeouts in 2004, Wood never fanned 100 batters in a season again and finished with just 1,582 Ks. It took him until his age-33 season to set this mark.
Sale has not experienced any significant injury trouble yet. Now a six-time All-Star, he’s riding five consecutive seasons of 200 strikeouts or more. This season has been his bat-missing masterpiece. He now has 256 Ks this season. That’s just 21 off his career high, which came in a full season with the 2015 Chicago White Sox.