Corbin Burnes continued to do things no other pitcher has done Tuesday night.
The Milwaukee Brewers’ sizzling starter extended his historic start to the season by blanking the San Diego Padres on four hits over six innings with no walks and 10 strikeouts to lead the way to a 6-0 victory at Petco Park.
Burnes became the first starting pitcher in modern history (since 1893) to record as many as 40 strikeouts without issuing a walk to begin a season. The previous record of 35 was set by St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright in 2013.
In lowering his earned run average to 0.37 (one earned run in 24 ⅓ innings), Burnes also became the first pitcher with no walks and 40 strikeouts over a four-game stretch at any point. Since allowing his lone run of the season on a home run by Minnesota’s Byron Buxton in his first start, Burnes has pitched 18 scoreless innings.
“He’s pitching really well,” manager Craig Counsell said. “He’s earning those numbers because of how well he’s pitching. Tonight he had to make some pitches in the fifth to get through that inning. He got an unbelievable defensive play to get him through the fourth.
“It was a little bit of a tougher outing. He had to make some pitches but he did and that’s what good pitchers do.”
The combination of Burnes’ dominance and a five-run rally in the third inning allowed the Brewers to take their second in a row over the much-improved Padres, who have scored just one run in facing Milwaukee’s two best starters — Brandon Woodruff and Burnes.
“The Padres are a good team,” Counsell said. “They’ve got good pitching and a tough lineup. You come in here and you take a couple of games. It’s a good series. A chance to sweep the series tomorrow is as much as you can ask for.”
When Burnes struck out all three batters he faced in the bottom of the third inning, he made baseball history. That trifecta gave him 36 strikeouts and no walks to open the season, surpassing Wainwright to become the first starting pitcher to produce those totals in modern baseball.
After the game, Burnes was asked how he avoids thinking about the crazy-good numbers he is posting and remains focused on his work.
“I think I’ll take the rest of the night to kind of reflect on it,” he said. “You know, I’ve heard it from everyone in the clubhouse, so it’s kind of hard to escape it right now. So, tonight we’ll kind of reflect on it and enjoy it, and kind of celebrate a little bit tonight, but then we’re back at it tomorrow.”
Afterward, Brewers outfielder Billy McKinney was asked what his approach would be if he had to face Burnes, the way he is throwing the ball right now.
“Hope he throws me four balls,” McKinney said with a grin. “Heck, I don’t know. He’s been so nasty. That’s a tough one right there. I’m glad I’m on his side and I don’t have to really think about that. I’m not really sure what I’d do.”