Starters, relievers closing in on AL strikeout record

Starters, relievers closing in on AL strikeout record

ST. PETERSBURG -- With an American League-high 1,264 strikeouts, the Rays' pitching staff now ranks second in league history for a single season and is two whiffs shy of the league record held by the 2001 Yankees.

When asked about the possibility of breaking the strikeout record prior to Thursday's 7-4 win over the Red Sox, manager Joe Maddon asked a gathering of reporters: "Are we on the verge?"

Maddon then inquired, "Our pitchers?"

The confusion was legitimate since Tampa Bay's offense has struck out 1,221 times, putting it on pace to break the AL record for a season held by the 2007 Rays (1,324).

When told it was his pitching staff that is close to setting a record, Maddon noted that "it just speaks to the talent of our guys."

"Also, a lot of it, too, speaks to the health of our guys," Maddon said. "It's primarily been the same group of guys out there this year, except we've had a couple of additions, but it also speaks to a power bullpen, too. They've been outrageous in their contribution.

"So I think it speaks to power pitching and to health throughout the entire group. ... In order to do that, you have to have power from both [starters and relievers]."