200

Jon Lester yesterday became the 10th Boston pitcher to record 200 strikeouts. Quick, name the other nine.

It's easy to guess Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens and Cy Young. We probably remember Curt Schilling and Daisuke Matsuzaka, both coming in the past five years. I guessed Luis Tiant correctly, and of course there was Jim Lonborg's one-pitch wonder season of 1967. That makes eight.

If you guessed Smoky Joe Wood, you're a better off-the-cuff historian than I, although his 1912 season is in retrospect a no-brainer. And winner for most obscure — and statistically worst — 200-strikeout season in Red Sox history is Hideo Nomo's lone season in Boston, 2001. 220 strikeouts, a no-hitter, a one-hitter … and a 4.50 ERA.

Here's the list.

Young had the first 200-strikeout season for the Boston Americans, racking up an even 200 in 380 innings in 1904 while winning 26 games and posting a 1.97 ERA. He repeated the feat in 1905 with an even better season — 210 Ks in 320.2 innings and a 1.82 ERA. 

Those raw dead-ball numbers still don't hold a candle to the two most impressive seasons of Pedro Martinez's stellar career nearly 100 years later. In 1999, he became the only Sox pitcher to break the 300-strikeout barrier. He posted 313 strikeouts in 213.1 innings, going 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA. The next season, he struck out a mere 284 batters, won only 18 games, and posted an ERA of 1.74, the lowest ERA of any Sox pitcher to K at least 200.

Thanks in large part to Pedro, the Sox went six consecutive seasons with a pitcher above 200 strikeouts. Martinez in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2004 did the trick, while Nomo filled in the gap in 2001. Curt Schilling added 203 in 2004, making that the only Sox season with two 200-strikeout pitchers.

After Smoky Joe dazzled opponents in 1911 and 1912 (258 Ks in 344 innings, 34-5 record, 1.91 ERA in that masterful season), the Sox went 55 years before seeing another 200-strikeout season. Jim Lonborg's Cy Young year led the Sox to the pennant in 1967. Luis Tiant's 1973 campaign was the only other 200-K season between the dea-ball era and Roger Clemens, who did it an astounding seven consecutive seasons, from 1986 to 1992, then reprising the feat in his final season in Boston, 1996. He nearly topped 300 in 1988, coming nine short, led the league in complete games, shutouts, K/9, K/BB ratio … and finished sixth in the Cy Young voting.

23 comments… add one

  • interesting. as an aside, ruth’s highest k year pitching for beantown was 170, in 323 ip. that year he gave up 0 hr. that’s right, zero. dead ball era indeed.

    YF September 7, 2009, 2:02 pm
  • Am I the only loser looking for a game thread? I just had to have somewhere to say, “hey look, an inning with Beckett pitching and no home runs!!”

    rootbeerfloat September 7, 2009, 2:27 pm
  • You know, right now Beckett should pitch 5 more starts (including today). He’s at 172 strikeouts, so if he gets almost 6 strikeouts per start he’ll top 200 as well.

    Atheose September 7, 2009, 2:28 pm
  • Beckett doing a great job this inning showing that he knows more than one way to give up runs.

    stuck working September 7, 2009, 2:59 pm
  • lol just what I was thinking, stuck.
    At least Gonzo made a great play to get Kotsay at home.

    Atheose September 7, 2009, 3:00 pm
  • Our offense once again pathetic with RISP.

    pale blue eyes September 7, 2009, 3:46 pm
  • So Beckett gets through six with three runs given up. Didn’t look like a quality start to me. No homers, though.

    pale blue eyes September 7, 2009, 3:49 pm
  • Extra quick inning for Buehrle.

    pale blue eyes September 7, 2009, 3:54 pm
  • Quick inning for Beckett as well. Again he finishes strong. But the early innings did not look pretty.

    pale blue eyes September 7, 2009, 4:01 pm
  • Base hit to center for Victor Martinez. Jacoby would have caught it.

    pale blue eyes September 7, 2009, 4:04 pm
  • Bay misses a game-tying homer by 10 feet, then gets a called strike three that’s about a foot of the plate.

    Atheose September 7, 2009, 4:12 pm
  • Oki not the pitcher you want to see in a close game right now.

    pale blue eyes September 7, 2009, 4:25 pm
  • Losing 3 out of 4 to this White Sox team is a disgrace.

    pale blue eyes September 7, 2009, 4:27 pm
  • I cannot believe how far this team is from being ready for the post-season. If they even get there, at this rate. And I thought they were decently close to a lock to make it prior to this series.

    stuck working September 7, 2009, 4:35 pm
  • Yanks win a tension-filled pitcher’s duel with a succession of unglamorous but effective sac flies in the 8th. But Jeter goes 0 for 4 so no record…yet. Assume he doesn’t play in game 2 of the doubleheader.

    IronHorse September 7, 2009, 6:25 pm
  • must be football season
    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    dc September 7, 2009, 9:54 pm
  • must be a team “fighting” for the wild card with a one-man staff and a three man lineup.
    zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    James YF September 8, 2009, 8:38 am
  • don’t be too quick to sell the sox short james…the yanks haven’t won anything yet…the system rewards teams for simply limping into the playoffs, with a clean slate against their playoff competition, home field advantage notwithstanding…the yankees still strike me as a team built for the regular season…we’ve been spoiled by the string of post-season appearances [oops, not last season], only to be disappointed by not finishing the post-season with a ws win since 2000…sure, we may have better pitching this year than we did last, and the addition of tex has made our lineup stronger, and we may have had the better of the sox so far with our overall record, but i think they still lead the season series, they play us tough even when we win, and if we meet in the post season, it’s a whole new ballgame…what happened in the regular season gets thrown out…count me still afraid of the team with a “one-man staff and a three man lineup.”…that can change quickly in a short series…

    dc September 8, 2009, 10:57 am
  • Nice retort, dc. I love when guys write any team off, much less the Red Sox or the Yankees.

    Brad September 8, 2009, 1:40 pm
  • Apparently with Beckett’s start yesterday, it triggered his 12 million $ option for 2010…

    dw (sf) September 8, 2009, 2:22 pm
  • James needs a history lesson about the 2004 AL wildcard entrant.

    I'mBillMcNeal September 8, 2009, 7:43 pm
  • deep 2000 projected available scientific

    irwynwhiti September 16, 2009, 2:12 pm
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    jadiracoom September 16, 2009, 2:14 pm

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