It is not uncommon to hear of a pitcher throwing a no-hitter, or a game that goes into extra innings. But it is not very often that one hears of a pitcher striking out 27 batters in a single game. Such an accomplishment has only been achieved a handful of times. So, has there ever been a 27 strikeout baseball game?
The History of 27 Strikeout Baseball Games
The first known 27 strikeout game was thrown by Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller on April 16th, 1938. Feller, who was only 19 at the time, set the record for the most strikeouts in a nine-inning game, a record that still stands today.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Sandy Koufax also had multiple 27 strikeout games. Koufax’s first 27 strikeout game came on June 4th, 1959 in a game against the Chicago Cubs. He followed that up with another 27 strikeout game on August 31st, 1961 against the San Francisco Giants.
Koufax’s 27 strikeout record was broken by another Hall of Famer, the legendary Nolan Ryan. Ryan recorded his first 27 strikeout game on July 15th, 1973 against the Detroit Tigers. He followed that up with another 27 strikeout game in 1974 against the California Angels.
The last pitcher to throw a 27 strikeout game was Randy Johnson, who accomplished the feat on May 8th, 2001 against the Cincinnati Reds. Johnson’s 27 strikeouts are still the most ever in a nine-inning game.
Notable 27 Strikeout Games
Bob Feller’s 27 strikeout game was perhaps the most memorable. Feller, who was only 19 at the time, set an American League record that still stands today. He struck out the first nine batters he faced and finished with a total of 27 strikeouts.
Sandy Koufax had two 27 strikeout games, both of which were against the Chicago Cubs. His first 27 strikeout game came on June 4th, 1959 and his second came on August 31st, 1961. Koufax went the distance in both games, throwing a total of 18 innings.
Nolan Ryan was the first pitcher to break Koufax’s 27 strikeout record. Ryan’s first 27 strikeout game came on July 15th, 1973 against the Detroit Tigers. He followed that up with another 27 strikeout game in 1974 against the California Angels.
Randy Johnson’s 27 strikeout game was the most recent one. Johnson accomplished the feat on May 8th, 2001 against the Cincinnati Reds. Johnson’s 27 strikeouts are still the most ever in a nine-inning game.
Reasons Why There Haven’t Been More 27 Strikeout Games
There have been very few 27 strikeout games in MLB history, and there are a few possible explanations as to why.
- Pitchers Are More Specialized: In the past, pitchers were expected to throw complete games, but now they are more specialized. Pitchers are expected to throw between five and seven innings, and only the best pitchers are expected to go the distance.
- Hitters Are Better: Hitters have also become more specialized and are better prepared for facing top pitchers. Hitters have access to more information about pitchers, and can make adjustments accordingly.
- Strikeouts Are Harder To Come By: Strikeouts are also harder to come by now than they were in the past. Pitchers are more likely to rely on ground balls and fly balls to get outs.
In conclusion, while there have been a few 27 strikeout games in MLB history, they are few and far between. This is due to the fact that pitchers are more specialized, hitters are better prepared, and strikeouts are harder to come by.