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Seattle Mariners rookie George Kirby had a historic start against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday.
The 24-year old set a Major League-record by striking out 24 consecutive strikes to start the game. He surpassed the goal that Joe Musgrove had previously set for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2018. Musgrove hit the goal against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Kirby said he was surprised when he looked up and saw what he was doing.
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“I looked up when I was 15 or 16, and I was like, ‘Oh, man,'” he said.
Even when the Mariners lost the game 3-1, Kirby was on a roll. According to MLB.com, Kirby only got one of his 24 strikes thrown out of the zone. He threw only once to a count of three balls and walked zero.
“It just sets you up for the whole at bat,” Kirby told reporters. “I mean, if you get one strike, the batter now has to protect five pitches. Just attack. That’s what I’ve been doing all my life. I really try to hammer the corners, just really quality hits, that’s kind of where I’m “Sometimes you throw one down the middle.”
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Kirby said he tries to follow the “dominate the zone” mantra.
“I was like, ‘I’m the man for it. They’ve been preaching it since day 1, and it’s something I’ve really kept to myself. I’ll just go out and attack. You can’t do it too bad you just throws strikes. That’s the name of the game now.”
Kirby pitched through the seventh inning for the first time since July 2 and only the second time this season. He struckout nine, equivalent to his career high, and 69 of his 85 pitches were strikeouts.
Nationals infielder Ildemaro Vargas hit a two-run homerun in the ninth that put a damper on the Mariners’ day.
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Mariners rookie Julio Rodriguez hit his 20th home run. He became the fourth rookie to hit 20 home runs and stole 20 bases in the same season, alongside Mitchell Page who did it for the Oakland Athletics in 1977, Ellis Burks who did it for the Boston Red Sox in 1987 and Marty Cordova who did it for the Minnesota Twins in 1995.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.