When Daisuke Matsuzaka collected 15 wins and 201 strikeouts for the Red Sox in 2007, he became just the fifth pitcher since 1893 to reach 15 and 200 K's in his first Major League season. Like the four men before him, Matsuzaka was relatively difficult to hit, finishing ninth in the American League in hits allowed per nine innings. However, that ninth-place ranking was nothing when compared to some of the efforts of the four pitchers to accomplish the feat before Dice-K.
The first man in the quintet -- Pete Alexander -- broke into the National League in 1911 and allowed hits at a rate of 6.99 for every nine innings -- a league-leading total, one of a handful of top marks for Alexander that season. In '55, Herb Score not only finished second in the AL with 6.26 hits per nine, but that rate was the fourth lowest for any left-hander in history. Score also set a modern era rookie record for strikeouts, with 245, which held up until the next man in the group destroyed that mark in 1984.
Besides fanning 276 batters in his iconic 1984 season, Dwight Gooden also allowed 6.65 hits per nine innings to lead the NL and establish the lowest mark in history for a pitcher in his age-19 season. Gooden's dominance and youth certainly overshadowed the efforts by the fourth member of our five -- Mark Langston -- who that same year was fourth in the AL with 7.52 hits allowed for every nine innings.
Rookie pitchers with at least 200 strikeouts since 1893
Yu Darvish, who allowed two hits and a run while fanning nine in the Rangers' 9-3 victory over the Mariners on Friday, became the sixth pitcher in baseball history to compile 15 wins and 200 strikeouts in his first Major League season.
In terms of hits per nine relative to the league, Darvish is not quite at the Alexander/Score/Gooden level, but he's a little ahead of the other two. Currently, Darvish is allowing 7.28 hits per nine, which is good enough for third in the AL, behind a pair of AL Cy Young Award candidates in Jered Weaver and Justin Verlander.
In each of his past three starts, Darvish has thrown at least seven innings and allowed no more than three hits -- a streak that no Texas Rangers pitcher has produced since 1990, when another man known for being difficult to hit -- Nolan Ryan -- had three in a row. Darvish is the 16th rookie pitcher since 1893 with at least 200 strikeouts.
Derek Jeter went 2-for-5 Friday vs. the Rays, with his first hit moving him past Willie Mays for sole possession of 10th place on the all-time hits list (according to Elias).
Passing Mays will likely be the last move Jeter makes this season, as he is now 28 hits behind Eddie Collins. Just this year, Jeter has passed Dave Winfield, Tony Gwynn, Robin Yount, Paul Waner, George Brett, Cal Ripken, Nap Lajoie, Eddie Murray and Mays.
Jeter now has 967 career multihit games, tying him with Paul Molitor for the fourth most by any player since 1918. The three ahead of Jeter and Molitor: Pete Rose (1,225), Stan Musial (1,059) and Hank Aaron (1,046). Jeter leads the Majors in multihit games this season, with 60.
The Braves defeated the Nationals, 2-1, scoring a run in the bottom of the ninth for the team's fifth walk-off victory of the year.
Kris Medlen allowed one run in seven innings while striking out a career-high 13 and walking one. After opening the year in the bullpen and making 38 relief appearances, Medlen made his first start of the year on July 31. In his nine starts, Medlen has gone 7-0 with a 0.86 ERA, allowing 45 hits in 62 2/3 innings while striking out 66 and walking eight.
On Sept. 3, Medlen struck out 12 with no walks. He is the third Braves pitcher since 1918 to have two games in a season with at least 12 K's and no more than one walk. John Smoltz had two in '96, and Javier Vazquez had a pair in 2009.
With their walk-off victory, the Braves have won 20 consecutive games started by Medlen. This streak of team wins in one player's starts, which dates back to May 29, 2010, is the longest in franchise history and the longest in the Majors since the 2001 Yankees won 20 consecutive games started by Roger Clemens.
Verlander threw seven scoreless innings and improved to 14-8, as the Tigers defeated the Indians, 4-0. Chris Sale threw six shutout frames and pushed his record to 17-6, as the White Sox defeated the Twins, 6-0. David Price allowed two runs in seven innings and became the first AL pitcher to reach 18 victories, improving to 18-5 as the Rays defeated the Yankees, 6-4.
How some top AL starters stack up
Nationals rookie Bryce Harper hit his 19th home run of the season in a 2-for-3 night at the plate Friday vs. the Braves.
Harper's 19 home runs are the second most in a season for a teenager, and are tied for the second most in history overall for a teen. Tony Conigliaro hit 24 homers as a 19-yar-old in 1964. Mel Ott had 19 home runs as a teenager, with 18 of them coming in '28.
Harper's homer gave him 47 extra-base hits, tying him with Conigliaro (1964) for the third most in history for a player in his age-19 season or younger. Harper is now one shy of tying Ott ('28) and Phil Cavarretta ('35) for the most.
Mets star David Wright doubled twice to reach 40 two-base hits for the fifth time in his nine-year career.
Wright is the 12th player in history to have at least 40 in at least five of his first nine seasons. Ducky Medwick and Wade Boggs share the top spot, with seven such seasons, while Musial and Albert Pujols each had six. At five, Wright is tied with Lajoie, Bob Meusel, Joe Sewell, Hank Greenberg, Todd Helton, Brian Roberts and Robinson Cano, who needs one double this season to reach 40 for the sixth time in his first eight years.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.