36-year old pitcher Justin Verlander broke two massive records during Houston Astros’s MLB game against Los Angeles Angels. He claimed 3000 strikeouts in his career, becoming the 18th person to achieve the incredible feat. Verlander also claimed a career high 300 punchouts in a season, becoming the 19th to do so in a single season since 1900.
“I think it’s one of those things you keep your head down and keep pitching,” Verlander said after making history. “I am thankful to be able to reach 3,000 — incredibly thankful. It was never an end goal for me. I think, really, it’s just a huge step along the way. Obviously — knock on wood — I’m not near the end of my career, so just stay on the gas and keep trying to pitch as long as I can and see what happens.”
After not striking out a batter in the first inning, Verlander reached the milestone in the fourth inning when he punched out Kole Calhoun, posting his 11th in the game. For Verlander, 3000 career strikes seemed reachable, but he admitted he did not feel like posting 300 strikeouts in the season.
“Getting to that number meant a lot to me tonight,” he said. “I knew I was six away, but I only struck out five last time I faced them, so these guys have been really tough against me all season long. I almost honestly kind of wrote off 300. I thought it was going to be a lot to ask for, based on how these guys don’t strike out much and how they had battled me all season long. Next thing you know, I got 3,000 and I was like, ‘All right, whew.’”
“I probably showed a little bit more emotion for the 300th than I did the 3,000th, because I really didn’t expect to get there in this game,” Verlander, who waved to the crowd and blew a kiss to wife Kate Upton at the end of the sixth inning, said. “Very thankful to be able to have a good game like this and get both accomplishments. It hasn’t set in yet.”
“I honestly haven’t had a moment to really have it set in,” he said. “My teammates gave me a good speech after and everybody gave me a great hug. Hopefully this is one of those moments that we look at and it’s just one of the special moments of the season that was extremely special.”
The Astros eventually won the game 6-3, much to the delight of their manager AJ Hinch.
“It was a big night for Justin and a great night for our team,” Hinch said.
“When 3,000 was getting close, he found ways to get a lot of strikeouts.When 300 got close for the season, he beared down even more. Big night for him. Great night for our team.”