ST. PETERSBURG -- There are many ways to measure the pitching dominance of the Red Sox in Sunday's 3-2, 10-inning win over the Rays at Tropicana Field.
The 23 strikeouts recorded, a club record. The 21 recorded in the first nine innings, which would have been a Major League record for a nine-inning game. The 11 straight strikeouts recorded in 11 consecutive plate appearances, a Major League record. The fact that 17 consecutive outs were recorded via strikeout. The astonishing two-hour and 11-minute drought in between balls put in play.
It's all never been done before. And it all added up the 11th straight win for the Red Sox, moving their magic number to clinch the American League East to two. Boston also moved into a tie with the Rangers for the best record in the AL.
"It was one [heck] of a day from the mound," manager John Farrell said.
Eduardo Rodriguez started and matched a career high with 13 strikeouts, including his final 11 outs. For the past two days, he had thought about the last time he pitched at Tropicana Field on June 27, when he allowed nine runs in 2 2/3 innings and was demoted to Triple-A after the game.
Heath Hembree relieved him and fanned all five batters he faced. Matt Barnes got one out, a strikeout. Joe Kelly, who closed the game, recorded four strikeouts. On a day when Farrell wanted to stay away from most of his key relievers, the Rays still couldn't figure it out.
"I have tried the best that I can try," Rodriguez said. "I am just thinking about winning the games and giving the best that I can give."
There have only been four other instances in which 23 strikeouts were recorded in an MLB game, and Boston's performance was the first in more than 12 years. The other times it happened, the games lasted 20, 17 and 16 innings, significantly longer than the 10 that the Rays and Red Sox played.
Many of the participating Red Sox pitchers didn't realize the history they'd made after the game, and not many seemed to care. Rays manager Kevin Cash called it "a strikeout run" and acknowledged it was a frustrating day for the Rays.
Nearly two weeks since their last loss, there haven't been many frustrating days on the field for the Red Sox.
"Everyone is stepping up and doing their job," Hembree said. "The starting pitching is doing a good job. They are getting us deep in ballgames the last couple of weeks and it has been real easy on the bullpen when starters go deep. Everybody is hungry to get the ball and everybody wants to pitch."
Sam Blum is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.