In 2021, New York Yankees Pitcher Chad Green, Michael King, and Washington Nationals Kyle Finnegan threw immaculate innings. Both pitchers’ accomplishments went by so quickly that some fans didn’t even register what took place on the pitching mound. If you were getting food, using the bathroom, or checking your phone during the performance, you may have missed history on the mound. So what is an immaculate inning in baseball? How often does it take place in baseball history, and why is it happening more often today than in the past? Find out more about this topic below.
What is an Immaculate Inning in Major League Baseball?
An immaculate inning occurs when a pitcher three straight strikeouts with nine pitches. Striking out the batters can be a combination of throwing strikes and or swinging strikes by the hitter. Finally, an immaculate inning can take place in any inning for either a starting pitcher or reliever.
How Many Immaculate Innings Have There Been?
Throwing an immaculate inning is a rare accomplishment in baseball. According to Wikipedia, as of June 2021, 95 pitchers have thrown the immaculate inning, reaching 103 immaculate innings. A total of seven pitchers have thrown more than one immaculate inning in their career, and some are Hall of Fame Pitchers. As a note, this chart came from data as of June 2021.
Since 1889, an immaculate inning takes place .78 times per season. The most times this accomplishment has taken place was in 2017 and 2019, where it took place eight times during the season. As you can see in the chart above, immaculate innings occur more often as of late.
Why are Immaculate Innings Happening More Often?
Part of the reason for more immaculate innings is that pitchers are throwing harder than ever, and teams have extensive scouting information on all batters. Another factor for better pitching is the increase in the spin rate for certain pitchers throwing to hitters. Here is a breakdown to see how much the spin rate controls baseball in the present day.
Who Threw the First MLB Immaculate Inning?
The first official immaculate inning with a recording took place in 1889 between the Boston Beaneaters and the Philadelphia Quakers. The Boston Beaneaters pitcher, John Gibson Clarkson, threw the MLB immaculate inning in the third inning. Today, John Clarkson is in the Baseball Hall of Fame for that feat and posting a 328-178 career via wins and losses.
Who Threw the Most Recent MLB Immaculate Inning?
As of July 2021, the most recent MLB immaculate inning belongs to Chad Green of the New York Yankees against the New York Mets. Chad Green threw the immaculate inning in the seventh inning of a double header match. The seventh inning was the final inning of the game, so Chad also got the save.
Before Chad Green, Michael King of the New York Yankees threw an immaculate inning against the Boston Red Sox. Michael King delivered the clean inning on June 5th, 2021. Before Michael King, Kyle Finnegan of the Washington Nationals threw an immaculate inning against the Atlanta Braves on May 5th, 2021.
Have There Been Any Pitchers Who Have Thrown Multiple Immaculate Innings?
A total of seven pitchers have thrown multiple immaculate innings in their career as of June 2021. Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Max Scherzer, Kevin Gausman, and Lefty Grove are those pitchers with that accomplishment. Out of that list of seven pitchers, five of them are in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Only Max Scherzer and Kevin Gausman are not in the Hall of Fame since they are active pitchers today.
Has Anyone Struck out Four Batters on 12 Pitches in Major League History?
As of June 2021, no pitcher has struck out four batters on 12 pitches.
Has There Ever Been a 3-Pitch Inning?
According to Baseball-Almanac, 191 pitchers in baseball history threw a 3-pitch inning as of June 14th. 2021. A total of 107 pitchers in the National League have pitched a 3-pitch inning, while 84 have come from American League pitchers. Below is the breakdown of the top ten 3-pitch innings by the team.
- Chicago Cubs: 15
- New York Yankees: 10
- Colorado Rockies: 9
- San Diego Padres: 8
- Milwaukee Brewers: 8
- Cleveland Indians: 8
- Texas Rangers: 7
- Cincinnati Reds: 7
- Oakland Athletics: 7
- Chicago White Sox: 7
Has Anyone Thrown a 27 Pitch Game?
Nobody in baseball history has thrown a 27 pitch complete game. However, there is a pitcher who once struck out 27 batters over nine innings. The person who accomplished that task was Ron Necciai, and he was a Minor League Pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates organization in 1952.
In summary, an immaculate inning takes place less than one time a season over the past 132 years. However, flawless innings occur more often as pitchers continue throwing harder, spin the ball faster, and teams gather more data on how to pitch hitters. One thing to remember about this impressive accomplishment is that it happens quickly, so you may not even realize that that took place when watching a game.