MILWAUKEE -- "Strikeouts were a little contagious today," said Clayton Kershaw after a full-blown outbreak of strikeout fever at Miller Park.In a 12-inning, 2-1 Dodgers win over the Brewers on Friday, Milwaukee matched the Major League record by striking out 26 times, the teams set a National League record for
MILWAUKEE -- "Strikeouts were a little contagious today," said Clayton Kershaw after a full-blown outbreak of strikeout fever at Miller Park.
In a 12-inning, 2-1 Dodgers win over the Brewers on Friday, Milwaukee matched the Major League record by striking out 26 times, the teams set a National League record for combined strikeouts in a game at 42, Kershaw reached the 2,000-strikeout plateau and Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen set an all-time mark for strikeouts without a walk to start a season.
Could someone spare an ice pack for Ben May? He was the home-plate umpire ringing up all those hitters.
"The swings and misses were amazing," said Kershaw, who set a season high with 14 strikeouts in seven innings before Dodgers relievers Pedro Baez, Grant Dayton and Jansen whiffed 12 more over the final five frames. "Our bullpen is pretty special. They throw that high fastball really well, and guys don't know if it's a strike or not and feel like they have to swing. Makes it really, really hard."
"The top of the strike zone was liberal tonight," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "It was definitely in play. Their relievers, that's kind of what they're good at. I thought they got a whole bunch of early strikes there. They made some good pitches late and kept climbing the ladder."
The Brewers' matched an all-time mark they already shared with the 1971 Angels and the Cubs of just last month. In June 2004, Milwaukee struck out 26 times in a 17-inning, 1-0 win in Anaheim.
Counsell struck out twice that night before scoring the winning run on Scott Podsednik's double.
"It's too many. You're going to have a hard time winning a game striking out that many times, but it was a very well-pitched game," Counsell said. "Both sides pitched outstanding. I think that's what happens in the age of executed pitching, and that's what it was."
Since the '04 Brewers and '17 Cubs each struck out 26 times in Interleague Play, the Dodgers set a new NL record for pitching strikeouts. The teams struck out 42 times in all, two more than the previous NL record set by the Giants and Padres in 2001.
"I don't think anyone in here is happy about that," said Brewers center fielder Keon Broxton. "We all go in there trying to put balls in play and it [stinks] to lose that way, with so many strikeouts and saying, 'Well, we gave away a lot of opportunities that we could have capitalized on.' But it's baseball, man. It's a crazy game, a hard game, and all we can do is do our best and come back tomorrow and do better."
Along the way, two Dodgers pitchers made individual history.
In the second inning, Kershaw struck out Jonathan Villar for No. 4 in the game and No. 2,000 in Kershaw's career. Only Pedro Martinez (1,715 1/3 innings) and Randy Johnson (1,734) reached that plateau in fewer innings than Kershaw's 1,836.
Eight innings later, Jansen struck out Hernan Perez in the 10th for his 36th strikeout without a single walk, a new MLB record to start a season. By the end of the night, Jansen's record was up to 39 strikeouts versus no walks.
Dodgers hitters were not immune from strikeout fever. Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson matched his career high with 11 strikeouts in eight scoreless innings and became the first pitcher in franchise history with back-to-back double-digit strikeout performances with no walks.
According to Baseball-Reference.com data, only two pitchers have struck out 10 or more without a walk in three straight starts: the Rays' Chris Archer in 2015, and Kershaw -- twice.
Nelson struck out Yasmani Grandal and Cody Bellinger three times apiece before Grandal hit a solo homer off Brewers closer Corey Knebel in the ninth to force extra innings, and Bellinger won the game with another solo shot off Neftali Feliz in the 10th.
"It's a tough game. The toughest thing to do is hit a baseball," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "It's a game of failure. And to punch out three times each as those guys did, to still understand that next at-bat could be the difference in the game [is huge], and tonight it was."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com.