Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

Josh Hader's dominant eight-strikeout save was reminiscent of Randy Johnson's 16-strikeout relief outing

Josh Hader is unhittable right now. In 18 innings this season, Hader has allowed four hits and struck out 39 batters. Hitters are whiffing nearly 23 percent of the time -- tops in the Majors among all pitchers with at least 50 pitches. 
It all culminated in magic on Monday night. Coming in for the final eight outs against the Reds in the Brewers' 6-5 win, Hader recorded every out via the strikeout. His only blemish was a walk. 
In fact, Hader was so unhittable that Billy Hamilton struck out trying to bunt with two strikes. It was probably the best bet anyone had of making the slightest bit of contact. 

While it's hard to imagine a better relief performance, another long-haired left-hander managed to top Hader. On July 18, 2001, Randy Johnson entered in the third inning against the Padres and proceeded to give up one hit over seven innings, while striking out 16 batters.
Here's the final out, during which you can see the Padres' Ben Davis seemingly just give up mid-swing:   

Of course, Johnson was a reliever in name only. The game had actually started the day before, when Curt Schilling pitched the first two innings before play was suspended after electrical explosions knocked out the left-field lights. 
When the game was continued the next day, D-backs manager Bob Brenly decided to punish the Padres for loading up their lineup with lefties for Schilling: The Big Unit emerged. 
After the game, Johnson told the Associated Press, "By no means do I try to go out and strike people out. But I got in a groove." He added that it felt like a normal start, "except I got a mulligan. I had a one-run lead."
Johnson's outing broke Walter Johnson's record of 15 strikeouts that he set on July 25, 1913, though The Big Train needed 11 1/3 relief innings to do it.