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PETERSBURG -- In the second inning of Friday night's 12-1 win against the Blue Jays, Rays pitcher James Shields set an American League single-season strikeout record for the club.
His third strikeout of the game was the 1,267th by Tampa Bay pitchers. Toronto's J.P. Arencibia was the victim, swinging on a 2-2 changeup for the first out of the second. Brett Lawrie and Edwin Encarnacion each went down on strikes in the first.
The record was held by the 2001 Yankees at 1,266. New York nearly broke its own mark in '09, but fell just short, recording 1,260. But by the time the game was over, the Rays' staff was alone at the top with 1,275.
"We're a power pitching staff that throws strikes," manager Joe Maddon said. "You have to throw strikes to get ahead of hitters to be able to do that. You have to have good fastballs and throw the fastball and locate it well. ... We throw the fastball and we play off of that."
Both Shields and Maddon were quick to recognize pitching coach Jim Hickey for his efforts with the staff.
"There's a great sense of camaraderie around the group, there's a lot of accountability among the group," Maddon said. "They don't get away with anything. [Hickey] calls them out on it really nicely and so does [bullpen coach Stan Boroski]. It's a nice blend and mix, and they do it right."
Shields finished with nine of Tampa Bay's 11 punchouts, helping the team record its 56th double-digit strikeout game, tied with Washington for the most in the Majors. The Rays already hold the AL record for double-digit strikeout games and are one shy of the 2003 Cubs' Major League mark.
Shields leads the staff with 202, and became the first pitcher in team history with 200 in back-to-back seasons Friday. David Price has contributed 188 to the effort, while fellow southpaw Matt Moore has 169.
Entering Friday, Milwaukee's staff led all teams with 1,292 strikeouts, while Philadelphia trailed at 1,279. Both of those teams reside in the National League, however, where the designated hitter rule is not in effect.
The Cubs hold the Major League record with 1,404 in 2003.