Strikeouts come in bunches for Javier in short outing

July 14th, 2022

ANAHEIM -- Cristian Javier certainly had his strikeout stuff against the Angels on Wednesday night, as indicated by the 10 K’s on his stat sheet. But it was a short night for the right-hander, who was lifted after just 3 2/3 innings in Houston’s 7-1 loss at Angel Stadium.

“He threw the ball well, he just didn't have the command,” said manager Dusty Baker. “They fouled off a bunch of pitches, too. So they got [Javier’s pitch count] real high.”

While the Angels had a hard time putting the ball in play -- Javier induced 19 swings and misses, the fourth most in a start for him this season despite the brevity of his outing -- they frequently managed to work the count against him, drawing three walks and recording 18 foul balls. And five out of the six times they did make fair contact, it resulted in a hit.

Overall, though, Javier’s biggest struggle was efficiency. After a 19-pitch first inning, Javier labored through a 34-pitch second, in which he was stung by a perfectly placed Brandon Marsh RBI bunt and a two-run triple by Shohei Ohtani. (For good measure, Ohtani also struck out 12 as the opposing starting pitcher.)

“They were taking a lot of pitches,” Javier said through an interpreter. “They were being careful with their at-bats, trying to get my pitch count up, I think, so I wouldn't go that long.”

No one did a better job of that than Jo Adell in the third, when the Angels’ right fielder battled for 10 pitches against Javier.

“It didn't affect me a lot,” Javier said of the Adell at-bat. “Even though the pitch count was going up there against him, I tried to stay positive and think to myself that I was gonna get him out.”

He did get Adell out, catching him looking at a fastball for strike three. But the at-bat still took its toll on his ability to go deep into the game. After giving up another bunt hit with two outs in the fourth, Javier’s pitch count was up to 92 and the top of the order was due up for the third time, making it a logical time for him to exit.

It was just the second time in AL/NL history that a pitcher struck out 10 while being removed after 3 2/3 innings, joining only Danny Salazar, who did so for Cleveland on April 10, 2014, against the White Sox according to MLB Stats and Research.

Although he didn’t get as deep into the game as he would’ve liked, Wednesday’s start was the continuation of a recent positive trend for Javier. It was the third time in his last four starts he’s recorded double-digit strikeouts; he has 44 K’s in his last 22 2/3 innings, including a career-high 14 against the Angels on July 1. That’s not a bad note on which to head into the All-Star break.

“Obviously, the 10 strikeouts were great,” said Javier. “I just kept battling today, and kept battling to try to go as long as I could.”