MINNEAPOLIS — Kenta Maeda continued to look like the ace of the Twins’ pitching staff on Tuesday night at Target Field against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Maeda, who entered his start with a 3-0 record and 2.66 ERA, set a franchise record by striking out eight consecutive Milwaukee hitters from the third through the fifth innings. That broke the club record of seven consecutive strikeouts that was set by Jim Merritt on July 21, 1966 against the Senators in Washington and equaled by Francisco Liriano on June 11, 2010 against Atlanta at Target Field.
Maeda, acquired from the Dodgers during the offseason in a trade that sent hard-throwing prospect Brusdar Graterol to Los Angeles, began his streak by striking out Eric Sogard with one out in the third inning and finished the fifth by getting Ben Gamel swinging. Seven of eight Brewers went down swinging against the veteran righthander.
Maeda’s streak ended in the top of the sixth when Luis Urias led off the inning by grounding out to shortstop Jorge Polanco. Maeda did not give up a hit until Sogard led off the ninth with a bloop single and the Brewers chased the Twins starter after 115 pitches. Milwaukee tied the score in the ninth, but the Twins were able to win 4-3 in 12 innings.
Maeda fell one strikeout short of matching the American League record that was tied by Tigers lefthanded reliever Tyler Alexander on Aug. 2 when he fanned nine in a row against the Reds at Comerica Park. Former Tiger Doug Fister also struck out nine in a row on Sept. 27, 2012 against the Royals. Here’s a look at the list of pitchers with nine consecutive strikeouts.
The Major League record for consecutive strikeouts is held by the Mets’ Tom Seaver, who fanned 10 in a row on April 22, 1970 against the San Diego Padres.