Anaheim, Calif. — Houston Astros ace and former Tiger Justin Verlander became the 18th major league pitcher to reach 3,000 career strikeouts.
The 36-year-old right-hander entered Saturday night’s game against the Los Angeles Angels with 2,994 strikeouts. He achieved the milestone in the fourth inning when he got Kole Calhoun swinging at a slider. But Calhoun reached on a wild pitch and Andrelton Simmons then gave Los Angeles a 3-0 lead with a two-run homer.
Verlander’s feat was recognized on the scoreboard at Angels Stadium, and he was congratulated by teammates in the dugout at the end of the inning.
According to Baseball-Reference and Retrosheet, it’s the first time a pitcher has recorded his 3,000th strikeout on a wild pitch.
Verlander also reached 300 strikeouts in a single season for the first time, getting Calhoun on a foul tip in the sixth. Teammate Gerrit Cole has 316 Ks this year.
Verlander and Cole are the first teammates to record at least 300 strikeouts in the same season since Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2002.
Verlander finished with 12 strikeouts in six innings. He allowed three runs and four hits.
It was Verlander’s sixth game this season and fourth since the All-Star break with 12 or more Ks.
“Three thousand was something I wanted to accomplish this season. I honestly wrote off 300. I thought it was going to be a lot to ask for since these guys don’t strike out much,” Verlander said.
“I got 3,000 and then to look up after five innings and have 11 strikeouts. Talking to AJ, I knew we were only going to go six innings. I had more emotion for 300 than 3,000 because I didn’t expect to get there in this game. Very thankful to get both accomplishments. It hasn’t set in yet.”
Now in his 15th big league season, Verlander is the second pitcher to reach 3,000 strikeouts this year. New York Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia reached the milestone April 30 against Arizona.
Of the 16 retired pitchers with more than 3,000 strikeouts, 14 are in the Hall of Fame.
It is the second time two pitchers have done it in the same year. The last time was 1981 with Tom Seaver and Steve Carlton.
Verlander pitched his third no-hitter on Sept. 1 at Toronto. He is one of the favorites to win the AL Cy Young Award.
Verlander’s next game will be in the playoffs for the AL West champion Astros.
Prior to Sabathia, Atlanta’s John Smoltz was the last to make it to 3,000 strikeouts, in 2008.