TAMPA, Fla. -- Despite a 4-2 loss to the Lakeland Flying Tigers, the Yankees (44-19, 83-50) made some history on Friday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field. In the final home game of the regular season, Tampa pitchers tallied 13 strikeouts to eclipse the Florida State League single-season record for most strikeouts by one pitching staff.
The previous record of 1,189 was set back in 2010 by the Charlotte Stone Crabs. The T-Yanks will now enter the record book, having now tallied 1,194 strikeouts in 2017.
RHP Erik Swanson made the start for the Yankees and, after yielding a leadoff double in the first, retired nine-straight Lakeland batters. Along the way, the Yankees provided an early 2-0 lead.
The scoring began when Chris Gittens lined an opposite-field, leadoff homerun just over the wall in the right-field corner in the second. It was Gittens' 13th homer of the season and his third in his last six games. Hoy Jun Park hustled for a leadoff double in the third and scored, two batters later, on a base hit to left by Donny Sands .
Jake Robson broke up Swanson's streak with a leadoff single in the fourth. One out later, Josh Lester tied the score with a towering two-run homerun to right field. Lakeland (32-28, 62-64) then grabbed the lead in the fifth when Elys Escobar walked and scored on a two-out single by Hill.
Swanson (L, 7-3) snapped a streak of six-straight winning decisions. The 23-year-old allowed three earned runs on four hits in five innings, walking two while striking out six and throwing 52 of 82 pitches for strikes. It was also Swanson's first start with multiple walks allowed since May 9th, breaking a streak of 16-straight starts.
LHP Caleb Frare tallied the historic strikeout while pitching a scoreless sixth. Lester singled into right but was promptly picked off first base by Frare. Jose Azocar struck out swinging, becoming the 1,190th strikeout by Tampa pitchers. Joey Pankake followed with a base hit, but Frare, once again, picked off the runner. Pankake took off for second on the throw to first and was retired in a rundown, 1-3-4-3-6.
LHP Gregory Soto (W, 2-1) made a quality start for Lakeland, yielding two earned runs on seven hits in six innings. The 22-year-old issued one walk, struck out five and threw 60 of 95 pitches for strikes.
Frare tallied one more strikeout in a 1-2-3 seventh before RHP Jordan Foley took over in the eighth. Hill drew a leadoff walk, stole second and third before scoring on a broken-bat single to right by Lester. Foley struck out the side to end the inning.
Two more strikeouts by Foley in a scoreless ninth rounded out the 13-strikeout performance by Tampa pitchers.
Tampa brought the tying run to the plate when RHP Zac Houston (H, 2) walked Kyle Holder and Sands to begin the bottom of the eighth. Houston got Trey Amburgey to pop out and struck out Gittens before RHP Eduardo Jimenez entered and got a fielder's choice groundball from Billy Fleming to end the inning.
Jimenez (SV, 6) worked a perfect ninth to close out the game.
Sands (1-for-2, 2BB, RBI) reached base safely in three plate appearances. Katoh (2-for-4, 2B) logged the lone multi-hit game while making his first-career start in the outfield. Holder (0-for-3, BB) snapped a 10-game hitting streak, but reached base safely for the 16th- straight game.
Tampa still has two more regular-season games to pad the strikeout record. The series continues in Lakeland at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. RHP Taylor Widener (6-8, 3.54 ERA) will make the start against RHP Endrys Briceno (1-3, 3.21 ERA). Live audio will be available on the Tampa Yankees Radio Network at 5:50 p.m.
The final regular-season game is on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. in Lakeland. The T-Yanks will then take Monday off to prepare for the Florida State League Championship Series. Game 1 will be in Dunedin at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. Tampa will host Game 2 of the best-of-three series on Wednesday, September 6th at 7:00 p.m. For information on tickets, visit www.tybaseball.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.