BOSTON -- The 20-strikeout performance by the Red Sox to tie a Major League record for a nine-inning game was aided by a confusing sequence in the late stages of Thursday's 6-2 win over the Rangers.
It's the sixth time since at least 1913 that a team has struck out 20 in a nine-inning game. That fateful final frame opened with Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel striking out Nomar Mazara swinging. That was the one thing everyone could agree on.
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But the way Mazara struck out was the matter of contention. The pitch by Kimbrel hit Mazara's back foot and rolled toward the backstop on the third-base side. Under the rules, Mazara should have been called out and the ball should have been dead.
The problem is that home-plate umpire Chad Fairchild didn't see the pitch hit Mazara. His ruling was a wild pitch/strikeout, which allowed Mazara to race to first base well ahead of the throw by Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez.
Red Sox manager John Farrell asked for a challenge. But the replay official relayed to the on-field umpiring crew that the play was not reviewable.
It turns out that was a mistake.
MLB released the following statement:
"During the top of the ninth inning of Thursday's Rangers-Red Sox game, the umpires on the field accepted Boston's challenge that Texas batter Nomar Mazara was hit by the pitch on a swinging strike three. The Replay Official and Replay Supervisor misinterpreted the call on the field and incorrectly deemed the play to be non-reviewable. The call on the field -- of no hit by pitch on a swinging strike three -- is a reviewable play under the Replay Regulations."
Though the Red Sox would have preferred to avoid the annoyance of a baserunner on first, the miscommunication allowed Kimbrel to tie an MLB record with four strikeouts in one inning. It also gave the Red Sox the chance to record their third 20-K, nine-inning game in team history. The other two were record-setting and tying performances by Roger Clemens in 1986 and '96.
"I challenged the call. Challenged that he was hit by a pitch, which in fact he was," said Farrell. "And then it was brought back to me that it's not a reviewable or challengeable pitch. Which, any hit-by-pitch is reviewable. I still to this moment don't know why that ruling came down. It doesn't matter what side of the baseball you're on, a hit-by-pitch is reviewable. Strike three hit-by-pitch is an automatic out. That wasn't the call unfortunately. But it is what everybody saw on the big screen. It's what everybody saw in the moment."
It was the first time in Rangers history their offense had 20 strikeouts in a nine-inning game.
Starter Thomas Pomeranz equaled a career high with 11 K's in six innings. The other K's came from Richard Hembree (two), Robby Scott (one) and Matt Barnes (two).
"To be honest with you, I didn't have any idea. We just knew we had a lot," said Barnes. "When you're going through the course of a game like that, you really don't know. You don't sit there and kind of add them up. Truthfully, I didn't know until about five minutes ago. It's pretty cool."