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Sale faster to 2,000 K's than Pedro, a new mark

@IanMBrowne
August 14, 2019

CLEVELAND -- In the midst of a career that may eventually land him in the Hall of Fame, Red Sox ace Chris Sale became the fastest pitcher in Major League Baseball history to reach 2,000 career strikeouts in Tuesday night's 7-6 victory over the Indians at Progressive Field. Sale achieved

CLEVELAND -- In the midst of a career that may eventually land him in the Hall of Fame, Red Sox ace Chris Sale became the fastest pitcher in Major League Baseball history to reach 2,000 career strikeouts in Tuesday night's 7-6 victory over the Indians at Progressive Field.

Sale achieved the milestone in 1,626 innings. The previous fastest was Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez , who did it in 1,711 1/3 frames. Martinez reached No. 2,000 while pitching for the Red Sox in 2002.

"It's cool, it's special," said Sale. "I'm not a real big fan of stats, numbers and stuff like that. [But] I appreciate it. I think it's cool. A lot of people put in a lot of work getting me there. Obviously I appreciate all of them and have had some good catchers along the way. Good pitching coaches, good managers letting me go out there and stay out there. Good trainers, keeping me out on the field. As a whole, I appreciate it."

When it was mentioned to Sale that he achieved the feat faster than pitchers like Martinez and all-time strikeout king Nolan Ryan, Sale stayed humble.

"I've got a pretty good ways to go to catch up to them, but like I said, I respect it, I appreciate it," said Sale. "You don't want to get too caught up in the moment. I've still got some work to do. We as a team have some work to do. Yeah, it's not something I want to take lightly or pay attention to. It's fun, I respect it, but we've got some work to do."

Indians center fielder Oscar Mercado was the victim of Sale's 2,000th punchout when he waved at an 81.4-mph slider to end the bottom of the third inning.

More important for Sale than the milestone was pitching well for the second straight start. Over 6 2/3 innings, the lanky lefty held the Indians to five hits and three earned runs while walking two and striking out 12.

For the season, Sale is 6-11 with a 4.40 ERA, which is surprising given the way the rest of his career has gone.

Sale feels that he might finally be ready to turn a corner and get back to the top-flight performer the Red Sox have been accustomed to.

"We've kind of looked back and got some things not figured out, but we looked at some things, like I said before, made me successful and unsuccessful," said Sale." You kind of just keep leaning on the things that get you in a good spot and get you to have a better chance of being successful."

Red Sox manager Alex Cora was pleased that Sale could achieve a significant accomplishment during his trying season.

"It's been a grind this year, but there's been some cool things about him," Cora said. "The pitcher is amazing. The person is better. That tells a lot. This is a guy I really respect. We have a great relationship. He shows up every single day, regardless if he pitches or not. He's pulling for his teammates, he's doing everything possible for us to win, and I'm very proud of him."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.