Nolasco fans 9 straight, finishes with 16 Ks
Nolasco struck out nine straight Atlanta Braves and set a Marlins record with 16 Ks—the most by a major league pitcher in more than two years—during Florida’s 5-4 victory Wednesday night.
“Something kind of weird about me is that, ever since high school, I keep a mental tally in my head of how many I have every single game,” he said. “I knew how many I had and what was going on, but I wasn’t aware of any record.”
Nolasco’s nine consecutive strikeouts in a game were one short of the big league mark set by Hall of Famer Tom Seaver for the New York Mets on April 22, 1970, against San Diego.
Seaver struck out 19 in that game at Shea Stadium, including his final 10 batters in a 2-1 victory.
“I’m not much of a history person,” Nolasco said, “but if my kids come across it some day, that would make me proud.”
Trying to make a late push for the playoffs, the Braves rallied for two runs in the ninth inning and had a chance to win after loading the bases with two outs. But Atlanta lost its second straight when Matt Diaz(notes) got hung up between third and home following a low pitch that squirted away from catcher Ronny Paulino(notes).
With Martin Prado(notes) batting, Diaz initially broke for the plate, hesitated twice, then tried to scamper back to third. Paulino retrieved the ball and made a strong throw to nail Diaz, who slammed his hand on the bag in frustration.
“I pride myself on making decisions, not always the right ones, but I’m decisive,” Diaz said. “Right there, I hesitated and it cost us big. I’ve never felt this bad about a play. It’s a sinking feeling knowing you cost these guys.”
Atlanta fell four games behind Colorado for the NL wild card with four to play. The Rockies beat Milwaukee 10-6.
“He was making pitches when he needed to and he was obviously getting ahead in the count and just burying the slider,” LaRoche said. “For some reason tonight, it was really hard to pick up, especially with two strikes.”
Nolasco fanned 12 through five innings, retiring 14 of his first 15 batters. He had 15 strikeouts through seven, giving him a shot at the major league record of 20 for a nine-inning game.
Nolasco (13-9), who struck out 14 of his first 19 batters, set a Marlins record with No. 15 when Diaz fanned for the final out of the seventh. His final strikeout came against rookie Brooks Conrad(notes) for the first out of the eighth.
Nolasco’s night ended after 123 pitches when manager Fredi Gonzalez brought in Dan Meyer(notes) with two outs in the eighth and a runner on first. Meyer retired Chipper Jones(notes) on a liner to end the inning.
Nolasco threw 83 strikes. He allowed four hits, two runs—none earned—and two walks. He has won four of his last six starts.
Nolasco was 1-3 with a 7.44 ERA with 10 homers allowed in his previous six starts against the Braves. After winning 15 games last season, the right-hander got off to a rough start this year and was sent to the minors for a two-week stretch that ended June 7.
“I had something to prove to these guys,” Nolasco said, “because that’s a team, throughout my career, that’s hit me pretty well.”
The Marlins, already eliminated from playoff contention, took a 3-0 lead in the third against starter Javier Vazquez(notes) (15-10) on Jorge Cantu’s(notes) RBI single, a wild pitch and Dan Uggla’s(notes) RBI single.
Vazquez was 4-0 with a 0.84 ERA in his previous four starts, but he’s been unable to solve Florida. No team had beaten the right-hander more than once this season, but the Marlins earned their third victory against him. Vazquez allowed eight hits, five runs—three earned—with nine strikeouts in six innings.
Nolasco’s 16 strikeouts tied the most by a pitcher against the Braves since franchise relocated to Atlanta in 1966. The last pitcher to do it was Sid Fernandez for the Mets on July 14, 1989.
NOTES: Florida RHP Rick VandenHurk(notes) will start Friday against Philadelphia instead of LHP Sean West(notes). … Marlins 1B Nick Johnson(notes) (flu) took batting practice and could be ready this weekend. … Braves LF Garret Anderson(notes) needs one hit to reach 2,500. He ranks seventh among active players.