After a 2-hour, 25-minute rain delay Monday night, Indians starter Vance Worley made sure the remaining fans in the ballpark got their money’s worth during his outing. The righty finished with nine strikeouts in his 5.0 innings of action against the Scranton/Wilkes’Barre RailRiders, but truly put the exclamation mark on the evening with his baseball rarity of four strikeouts in one inning.
The feat has been accomplished just 70 times in the history of Major League Baseball.
In even rarer company, as an affiliate of the National League’s Pirates, only 38 NL games have featured a four-strikeout frame. In 2013, a lone NL hurler turned the trick, as former Louisville Bats right-hander Tony Cingrani whiffed four Washington Nationals on Aug. 28, 2013.
Worley recorded his four-punchout frame in his sixth start with the Indians and on the heels of a will-testing rain delay.
“During that delay I just sat in the corner and stayed focused,” Worley said. “I was ready to go as soon I was told it’s a 9:30 p.m. game start, and I competed with what I had.”
The “Vanimal’s” first victim of the fourth inning was an overmatched Francisco Arcia, who managed to make contact and foul off one ball before whiffing on strike three for what should have been the first out of the inning. However, Worley’s devastating pitch sprang all the way into the Tribe’s dugout to nullify the out and award Arcia first base.
“The one ball got away… and in my head I’m just thinking i have to get out of this inning,” Worley said. “I knew I had to just [get three outs] anyway possible.”
The next batter didn’t fare much better. Quickly falling behind 1-2 , former Indians infielder Russ Canzler attempted to remain patient by watching ball two sail out of the stirkezone, but the next pitch was just too good to pass on as he flailed at a 2-2 offering for a swinging strike three.
With two K’s and only one out to his name, Worley would yield a single up the middle to Corban Joseph prior to firing a mere four pitches (three strikes) and whiffing Carmen Angeilini for a normally full frame of strikeouts.
Worley’s fifth batter, Jose Pirerla, proved to be a legitimate threat as the long-time thorn in Indianapolis’ side blooped a single to score Arcia and move Joseph to second.
The RBI knock was the final casting call against Worley, who pounded the strikezone of Antoan Richardson with two quick strikes and one ball, before burying the RailRiders batter with a swinging punchout for the fourth whiff of the inning.
Worley finished the game with nine strikeouts to one walk, but was tagged for six runs on seven hits in 5.0 frames of work. His offense backed the start with a solo homer from Matt Hague and two-knock effort from Gregory Polanco, but SWB’s lead was just too much to overcome in Indy’s eventual 7-3 loss.
“I think the last outing doesn’t really show how I pitched, just based on numbers,” Worley said. “Each outing I feel stronger, I’m able to throw all my pitches for strikes when needed. All I can try to do is give the team a chance and throw strikes and keep the base-on-balls down.”
With his nine-strikeout performance, Indians starter Worley entered Tuesday’s action ranked first in the International League with 36 strikeouts since his season debut on May 6.