Chris Sale will get his second chance to set a modern-era baseball record Wednesday night when he takes the mound for the Boston Red Sox against the Texas Rangers.
Sale has struck out 10 or more batters in eight consecutive starts, which is tied for the longest such streak in a season since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Sale also did so in the 2015 season. With a chance to run his streak to nine games on July 6, 2015, he pitched a complete game against the Toronto Blue Jays -- but got “only” six strikeouts in a 108-pitch effort.
The only other pitcher to make at least eight consecutive starts, all in one season, with at least 10 strikeouts in each is Pedro Martinez, who did so at the tail end of the 1999 season for the Red Sox.
In Martinez's eight starts in 1999, he averaged 13.4 strikeouts per game, going 6-1 with a 1.16 ERA. He peaked with 17 in a complete-game win over the Yankees on Sept. 10.
Sale is averaging 11.0 strikeouts per game over his current eight-game streak, during which he has gone 4-2 with a 2.45 ERA. During his 2015 streak he averaged 12.1 strikeouts per game.
Excluding Sale, every pitcher in baseball’s modern era who has struck out 10 batters in at least seven consecutive starts within one season is in the Hall of Fame.
Sale is 4-2 this season, including 3-0 in his four starts this month. He has struck out 43 batters in 28 innings so far in May.
He leads the major leagues with 95 strikeouts, which trails only Randy Johnson (98 for the Houston Astros in 1998) for the most by a pitcher in his first nine starts with a team.
The Red Sox are 6-3 in games Sale has started this season and 17-18 in all other games. In Sale’s starts that the Red Sox have lost, the team has scored a total of three runs.
Sale has made seven career starts against the Rangers, all as a member of the Chicago White Sox. He posted double-digit strikeouts in two of those starts, both of which came in the 2015 season. He had 13 strikeouts in a win on June 3, 2015, and followed that up with 14 strikeouts over eight scoreless innings on June 19, a game which the White Sox lost.