Kernels: The pitching was more than O'K'

Legend has it that the father of scorekeeping, Henry Chadwick, chose "K" because it was the most dominant sound in the word "strike". This week, in our weekly take on the interesting and unusual in baseball stats, we feature quite a few pitchers who were dominant with the K's as well.

Collin McHugh of the Houston Astros got things started on Tuesday when he struck out a dozen Seattle Mariners. McHugh surrendered neither a walk nor a run, becoming the first Astros pitcher with 12 strikeouts, no walks, and no runs since Randy Johnson's 16-strikeout shutout against the Pirates in 1998.

McHugh also gave up only three hits, meaning his line matched just one other game in franchise history. J.R. Richard had a 13-strikeout, three-hit complete game with no walks against the Giants on June 6, 1980.

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Nine of McHugh's strikeouts came against the top third of the Mariners' order (Abraham Almonte, Dustin Ackley, Robinson Cano). That made Seattle the first team this season with hat tricks out of each of their top three hitters (the Cleveland Indians, Aug. 20, were the only team to do it last year). And it was a first in Mariners franchise history.

• The Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves, after striking out a combined 22 times in Monday's game, went for 28 whiffs-- and zero! walks-- on Tuesday.

Jose Fernandez and Alex Wood each pitched eight walk-free innings with 14 and 11 punchouts respectively. They're the first pair of starters in the live-ball era to both hit 8/0/11 in the same game. And that combined total of 28 strikeouts and no walks? That broke, by one, the major-league record for such a thing. The Cubs and Expos got to 27 without a walk on April 9, 2003.

Naturally, in Wednesday's finale, the teams combined for 28 more strikeouts. That's a total of 78; according to Elias that's a National League record for a three-game series in the modern era (since 1900).

The Marlins went on to strike out 13 more times in Friday's series opener against the New York Mets, the first time in their history they've had four straight 12-strikeout games on offense. They're only the seventh team since 1920 with such a streak, and six of those have come in the last decade. The only other one was by the 1964 Yankees (who won three of the games).

Corey Kluber of the Indians also hit the 8/0/11 mark in throwing a complete game on Thursday. It was the Indians' first complete game with at least 11 strikeouts since Justin Masterson took a loss in the final week of the 2009 season. And it was their first to also be walk-free since Tom Candiotti fanned 12 Minnesota Twins in a 12-3 win on October 1, 1986.

John Lackey added an 8/0/11 outing on Wednesday, just the third Boston Red Sox pitcher ever to do it against the New York Yankees (Pedro Martinez, 1999; Jim Lonborg, 1967). Tack on Cliff Lee's 10 strikeouts for the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday, and there were six pitchers in four days who recorded double-digit strikeouts with no walks (regardless of innings pitched). Tuesday was just the second day in the live-ball era where it happened three times. The other was June 5, 2002, by Javier Vazquez (Expos), Ruben Quevedo (Brewers), and Randy Johnson (Diamondbacks).

Michael Wacha of the St. Louis Cardinals also had an interesting start this week. On Wednesday he faced 20 batters and only five put the ball in play. Wacha struck out 10 and walked five before leaving after four innings and 93 pitches. It had been two years since any pitcher recorded the first nine outs of a game via strikeout (then-Dodger Aaron Harang against the San Diego Padres on April 13, 2012), and no Cardinals pitcher has done it as far back as play-by-play is available (to the early 1950's).

• Wacha was also the first Cardinals pitcher to record 10 strikeouts and five walks in an outing of any length since Chuck Finley did it against the Cubs on Sept. 1, 2002.