In the world of baseball, a strikeout is a significant achievement for a pitcher. It's a moment where the pitcher outwits the batter, throwing three strikes and sending them back to the dugout. But have you ever wondered if it's possible for a pitcher to strike out more than three batters in an inning? Theoretically, yes, it is possible. However, the Major League Baseball (MLB) record stands at four strikeouts in a single inning, a feat shared by over 50 different pitchers.
While no player has ever struck out more than four batters in an inning in the major leagues, there have been instances of five strikeouts in a single inning at the minor league level. On July 31, 2019, Malcolm Van Buren, a prospect for the Kansas City Royals, achieved this rare feat. This accomplishment had only been done one other time on the minor league level and never in the majors.
Van Buren, a Hanahan High School senior pitcher, managed to strike out five batters in one inning during a game for the Burlington Royals, a rookie league affiliate of the Kansas City franchise. He needed a couple of mistakes to make it happen, but he got it done. After striking out the first two batters, the third strike got away, allowing the batter to reach first base safely. This scenario repeated itself, leading to the extraordinary five-strikeout inning.