MIAMI -- The Tigers' pitching staff has been judged among the best in recent years, and the best Detroit has ever seen. For strikeouts, there's no longer any comparison in baseball history.
With Anibal Sanchez's first strikeout Saturday, Detroit eclipsed the Major League record of 1,404 previously held by the 2003 Cubs. The Tigers entered Saturday sharing the mark after six strikeouts among four different pitchers Friday night.
"I think it's a great accomplishment for them," pitching coach Jeff Jones said.
The reason for the historic total isn't hard to find. While Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander repeated their 200-strikeout seasons, Anibal Sanchez's first full season in a Tiger uniform put him on the cusp of the mark for the second time in his career. Doug Fister set a career high with 158 strikeouts for the season.
The big jump, however, came from Rick Porcello, who bumped his total from 107 last year to 140 this season entering Saturday. The addition of a curveball as a swing-and-miss pitch changed his style from a low-strikeout sinkerballer to somebody capable of inducing whiffs, including the first two double-digit strikeout games of his career.
Just how much of a difference that makes is a matter of opinion.
"We've got some power pitchers, so when you get power pitchers, you get strikeouts," manager Jim Leyland said. "I don't make that big a deal about it. I'm just worried about outs. I don't care how we get them."
Porcello, however, sees it as a huge development in his career.
"You've got to be able to strike guys out, especially in the American League," he said after his 10-strikeout game Sept. 16. "With the type of hitters they have in big, strong guys, we have to be able to get swings and misses when you need them. I've been able to do that a little bit better this year than I have in years past."
His pitching coach agrees.
"American League, with the DH, you have constant threats at the plate," Jones said. "I think it's good that you can strike some guys out."