(As always, dissemination of the SNotD with attribution is welcome.)
Despite a terrific start to his season, including a 1.25 ERA in his first five starts, Zack Greinke was not dominating opposing hitters in the strikeout category; he struck out no more than six batters in any of his starts, and more than four hitters just once.
That all has changed in his last two starts. Last Thursday, The Baseball Jonah whiffed 9 Texas Rangers in seven innings, but was sunk by two solo homers and the Royals' typically impotent lineup. This Wednesday, Greinke struck out eight more hitters in seven innings of work, and walked away with the win.
Striking out eight batters or more in consecutive starts is not a big deal. Or at least it shouldn't be. But if you're a Royals fan, you know how rare this can be for the boys in blue.
In point of fact: Greinke has become the first Royals pitcher to strike out at least 8 batters in consecutive starts this century. The last Royal to turn the trick was Jay Witasick, on September 17th and 22nd, 1999.
If Greinke strikes out 8 batters his next time out, he will become just the third Royals pitcher in history to do so in three straight starts. The first was Dennis Leonard, who did so in his last three starts of the 1977 season. (He would strike out just four in game 3 of the ALCS, but beat the Yankees anyway, bless his heart. Let's not speak about game 5.)
The second was Kevin Appier, who did so three times, once in 1995, once in 1996, and once in 1997. In 1996 Appier struck out 8+ hitters in five straight starts, and started that streak with three straight starts of double-digit strikeouts, the only such streak in team history. (In fact, only two other Royals - Bret Saberhagen in 1989, and Bill "Don't Call me Billy" Butler in 1969 - have struck out 10 batters in consecutive starts.)