Pineda cranks up his fastball, nets great results

New York Yankees starter Michael Pineda looks a lot like the ace that he was expected to be after an impressive rookie season in 2011.

It just took him a little while to get to that point.

On a day when Felix Hernandez recorded his 2,000th career strikeout and Clayton Kershaw notched his 1,500th, Pineda earned the biggest whiff-related headlines. He dominated the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday, fanning 16 in seven innings as the Yankees finished a series in which they won three of four.

Pineda’s 16 strikeouts tied for the second most in a game in Yankees history, trailing only the 18 by Ron Guidry against the Angels in 1978.

His 16 strikeouts are the most in a walk-free game in Yankees history. He’s the 15th pitcher in modern major league history with at least 16 strikeouts and no walks in a game.

Sixteen also tied the mark for most strikeouts in an appearance of seven innings or fewer, something done seven times since 2001, but never before then.

Pineda also had the most strikeouts of any pitcher in a nine-inning game against the Orioles/Browns franchise. Sam McDowell fanned 16 in 10 innings for the Indians in 1965 and Tom Cheney struck out 21 for the Senators in a game in which he pitched 16 innings.

Pineda is one of four pitchers with 50 strikeouts this season along with Clayton Kershaw, James Shields and Chris Archer. But Pineda is the only one in that group with fewer than 10 walks. He has three.

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Pineda has the most strikeouts (54) before reaching his fourth walk of any pitcher in Yankees history.

How he won

Pineda’s strikeouts were evenly split between his fastball and his slider and equally split between the left- and right-handed hitters in the Orioles' lineup.

Pineda averaged 92.6 mph with his fastball, his second-best velocity this season (he averaged 93.0 in his previous start). He’s averaging that same 92.6 in his past three starts. His fastball averaged 90.7 mph in his first four starts.

Opposing hitters were 1-for-11 in at-bats ending with a Pineda fastball on Sunday. They were 8-for-22 against it in his previous two starts.

Also of note: The eight strikeouts with the slider were two more than he had in his previous two starts combined.

Pineda finished the game with 22 swings and misses. Two pitchers have had more in a start this season -- James Shields (26) against the Astros and Danny Salazar (23) against the Twins.