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Brew Crew Shrugs Off Strikeout Record

Milwaukee batters don't seem to mind making National League history by whiffing 24 times in a 17-inning loss to the Chicago Cubs.

May 18, 2003|From Associated Press

MILWAUKEE — Strikeouts by the bunches are nothing new to the Milwaukee Brewers' free-swinging, light-hitting lineup.

Two years ago, the Brewers became the first team in major league history to record more strikeouts -- a record 1,399 -- than hits -- 1,378.

In each of the last two seasons, shortstop Jose Hernandez, now with the Colorado Rockies, had to be benched down the stretch to keep him from reaching Bobby Bonds' season strikeout record of 189.

On Thursday, the Brew Crew got into the record books by doing something no other National League team had ever done: They struck out 24 times in a 17-inning, 4-2 loss to the hard-throwing Chicago Cubs at Miller Park.

"They threw some good arms out there," said Geoff Jenkins, who struck out once. "A lot of it was fatigue, but they don't have a guy throwing less than 95 (mph). It was a mixture of plus-velocity, fatigue and the shadows coming in, too."

The old record was 22 strikeouts.

San Francisco fanned 22 New York Mets in a 23-inning game in 1964, and Los Angeles also struck out 22 in 19 innings against Cincinnati in 1972. California set the major league record of 26 against Oakland in 1971.

Five Brewers struck out at least three times, led by slugger Richie Sexson, who went 0-for-7 and tied a club record with five strikeouts.

Wes Helms went down swinging four times, and Royce Clayton, Scott Podsednik and John Vander Wal each struck out three times.

Eddie Perez and Ben Sheets each whiffed twice and Jenkins and Brooks Kieschnick went down on strikes one time each.

Kerry Wood struck out 13 in eight innings, and his bullpen racked up 11 more Ks, including four by winner Kyle Farnsworth and three by Todd Wellemeyer, who punctuated his major league debut and first professional relief appearance by striking out the side in the 17th inning.

"Those guys, it doesn't matter who they bring in, they're throwing 94, 95, 96, 97 mph," Brewers manager Ned Yost said.

The strikeout mark didn't bother his players.

"Who cares?" Jenkins said. "It's just a win or a loss. It doesn't really matter about the punchouts."

Clayton reasoned that with 17 innings, it was "two games, basically."

What upset the Brewers more than the strikeouts was the heart-wrenching loss in which they stranded runners in scoring position three times in extra innings and wasted potential game-saving plays by Jenkins and Clayton -- and the 14 strikeouts by the Cubs.

Clayton robbed Damian Miller of a line-drive RBI single in the 14th, and Jenkins robbed Alex Gonzalez of a homer in the 15th before Corey Patterson's two-run homer off Kieschnick in the 17th helped the Cubs finish off the four-game sweep.

After their 15th loss in 20 home games, the Brewers were left to once again take solace in having fought until the final out -- and swing.

"Catching balls over the fence and Royce jumping 10 feet high to catch a ball?" Yost said, shaking his head. "I don't think there was an error made in 17 innings. That's as fine a game as you're going to see."

And maybe as many strikeouts.

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