The record for most strikeouts in a nine-inning game is a shared achievement. The 20 strikeouts by Max Scherzer in 2016, Kerry Wood in 1998, and Roger Clements in 1986 and again in 1996 will be tough to match. A pair of New York Mets pitchers came one strikeout away from doing so.
Striking out 19 batters in a game is no easy feat either. After Charlie Sweeney and Hugh Daily each did so in 1884, no one reached the milestone again until 1969 when Steve Carlton fanned 19. The next guy to do it would be a Mets ace and two decades later yet another pitcher representing Queens would reach it.
The record for most strikeouts by a NY Mets pitcher in a game is 19
April 22, 1970, was the day when 19 members of the San Diego Padres went down on strike three calls. Their opponent was the great Tom Seaver.
It was Seaver’s fourth start of the season. He had yet to have a game where he struck out more than a batter per inning. This wasn’t so rare for even the most accomplished starters back then. While their strikeout totals were high, so were their innings. Not on this day. He’d mow down the Padres with ease.
Only a second inning home run by Al Ferrara put a blemish on this 2-1 victory. Dave Campbell had a single as well, but Seaver got the best of them and their San Diego brethren. Van Kelly, Cito Gaston, and Jerry Morales were the victims harmed the most by Seaver. Each of them struck out 3 times.
The early season performance by Seaver gave Mets fans hope of another championship. On October 6, 1991, on the penultimate day of the season, time had already run out for the Mets. It didn’t stop David Cone from replicating what Seaver accomplished more than 20 years earlier.
Cone didn’t allow a single run against the Philadelphia Phillies in this 7-0 win for the Mets. Two Phillies doubles were sprinkled in among their 3 hits. But so were 19 strikeouts including 4 against leadoff hitter Kim Batiste.
Cone walked only one batter in this 141 pitch performance that would give an analytics department an aneurysm today. The game ended with, of all things, a groundout off the bat of Dale Murphy.
For those curious, only two more pitchers would strike out 19 or more in between Seaver and Cone. There was Clemens’ record-setting 20 in 1986. There was also Nolan Ryan in 1974. There are obvious Mets connections there. Clemens was originally drafted by the Mets but did not sign. Ryan was theirs and they handed him off in an epically bad trade.