If you blinked, you might have missed it. Actually, given the time here on the East Coast, that nodding off/head snap thing one does when one is fighting sleep is probably more appropriate. Regardless, it happened so quickly that it was almost over before it started.
The bottom of the 9th inning in Monday’s Rays’ game against the Los Angeles Angels. Rays leading 4-3. Rafael Soriano in for the save. Nine pitches. Side gone. Struck out. Just like that.
Per a historical stats page on MLB.com, Soriano is one of 41 pitchers to strike out a side in the minimum nine pitches. He joins such notables as Ron Guidry, Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Sandy Koufax and a Chicago White Sox pitcher named Sloppy Thurston who, in the twelfth inning of a game against the Philadelphia Athletics in the summer of 1923, struck out Beauty McGowan, Chick Galloway and Sammy Hale in succession. You know, there really need to be more players in today's MLB with names as cool as Sloppy, Beauty and Chick. Just my opinion, anyway.
In what has been dubbed The Year of the Pitcher, this is yet another throwing feat in a season that's seen more than its share of notable accomplishments. But hot damn -- it's a positive one on the Rays' tally sheet. Soriano's been consistent and dominating during his late game appearances -- his All-Star nod was very well deserved. And let's be honest -- from his intensity when pitching to his mysterious on-mound rituals to his immediate untucking of his shirt when the game is over -- he's a lot of fun to watch.
Even when he's only on the field for the blink of an eye.