09/27/12 6:44 PM ET
Fister sets AL strikeout mark against Royals
By Anthony Odoardi / MLB.com
Not after he struck out his seventh straight Royals batter to tie a club record. Not after he struck out his eighth straight batter to match an American League record, even with the crowd erupting and Prince Fielder yelling at him to soak it in. Not even after he struck out his ninth straight to set the record. If anything, he was just confused.
"Honestly, I had no idea," Fister said. "Prince was yelling at me to step off during the inning, and I looked at him. Normally, he'll do that to kind of slow me down if I'm getting too quick or something. I thought that's kind of what he was doing there. I looked at him, because he kept looking at me, and he said, 'I'll tell you later.'
"As we were walking off, I said, 'Hey, what was that all about?' He just had that big old smile, like he always does, and he said, 'You don't know? Go in there, and all the guys will tell you.' So I got in there, and the congratulations from the team was tremendous. That's very humbling, and such an honor for me."
Nine strikeouts in a row.
It's common to hear of a team "batting through the order." But "striking out the order" had never been said -- at least in the AL -- because it had never been done until Thursday. Not once.
Roger Clemens, Ron Davis, Blake Stein and Nolan Ryan (twice) all came close, with eight. But it was Fister, a guy who has struck out nine-plus on only two occasions this season, who punched out nine straight.
"Just an unbelievable performance to set the record," manager Jim Leyland said. "I'm so happy for him. [He's] a great guy."
And Fister was oh-so-close to tying the Major League record, 10, set by the Mets' Tom Seaver on April 22, 1970.
In the seventh inning, facing Salvador Perez -- the Royals catcher whom Fister fanned to start the rally three innings earlier -- Fister worked his way to a 1-2 count. Fister had started the 22-year-old with a 76-mph curveball for a called strike. He dealt an 85-mph slider out of the zone, coaxing Perez to swing and making it 0-2.
After a fastball in at the hands made it 1-2, Fister delivered another slider. This time Perez poked it to shortstop, preventing further history with a collective groan from the fans at Comerica Park.
However, he expressed no disappointment.
"It's a humbling experience for me, and it didn't change anything," said Fister of missing out on the Major League record. "Could we have done anything different? That thought never crossed my mind."
The right-hander wouldn't make it out of the next inning, but nothing clouded what had transpired, especially with the Tigers winning, 5-4, in walk-off fashion -- even though Fister didn't get the win.
Over the historic stretch, starting with Perez with two outs in the fourth and ending with two outs in the seventh, Fister needed only 32 pitches to generate the K's, six of which ended with the batter caught looking.
"We thought the home-plate umpire was going to go into, what was it, the 'Naked Gun' [umpire scene], it was that type of [performance]," Don Kelly said. "Doug was just on a roll, pumping strikes. It was fun to watch."
And a record-setting afternoon was perhaps the perfect way to end the regular-season slate at Comerica Park.
Anthony Odoardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.