Atlanta Braves batters had no answers for Pablo Lopez their first time through the order on Sunday.
The Miami Marlins pitcher stuck out the first three batters he faced in the NL East matchup. He then repeated the effort in the second and third innings, setting a modern-era (post 1900) MLB record by striking out nine consecutive batters to start a game.
His strikeout of pitcher Ian Anderson to end the third inning was his last of the day. But nine was enough as Lopez picked up the win in a 7-4 victory over the Braves. He finished the day allowing three earned runs in six innings with two walks to go with his nine strikeouts.
Lopez matches 1884 NY Gothams pitcher
Lopez's effort breaks the previous modern-era record of eight strikeouts to start a game held by German Marquez (2018), Jacob deGrom (2014), and Jim Deshaies (1986). Mickey Welch stuck out the first nine batters he faced while pitching for the New York Gothams in 1884, according to MLB.
Here's what his pitch chart looked like as he threw 65 of his 83 pitches for strikes:
Pablo López's first half is done
6 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 9 K (83 pitches, 65 strikes)
Max velo: 95.2 mph
33.7% change, 26.5% 4-seamer, 24.1% cutter, 12% sinker, 3.6% curve
-- 9 Ks to open the game sets modern #MLB record
-- 78% strikes is the best of his career#Marlins pic.twitter.com/cgK92TZV2N
— Christina De Nicola (@CDeNicola13) July 11, 2021
Ehire Adrianza spoiled the party to lead off the fourth, grounding out to stop Lopez's streak one strikeout shy of tying the record for most consecutive strikeouts at any point in a game. Aaron Nola (2021) and Tom Seaver (1970) hold that record with 10.
Freddie Freeman hit a double in the next Braves at-bat and eventually scored to get Atlanta on the board in the fourth inning. But the Marlins held a 4-1 lead at that point that they would never relinquish.
After Sunday's effort, Lopez, 25, enters the All-Star break with 3.03 ERA, 111 strikeouts, 25 walks and a 1.09 WHIP. His ERA and WHIP numbers project to be the best of his four-season MLB career while his strikeout tally is already the most he's ever thrown in a season.
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