It's the dream of every pitcher since they first take the mound in Little League. Strike out the side in nine straight pitches and return to the dugout as quickly as you left it. While it might not be the very definition of true efficiency, it's the one that makes you feel most dominant.
Boston Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz got to experience that feeling in Thursday's 6-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles, using only three pitches to strike out each of the bird batters he faced in the sixth inning at Camden Yards. The "immaculate inning" against Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and Chris Davis was so brief it was edited into a clip that takes less than a minute to watch.
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said Buchholz pitched "like a man possessed" against the Orioles. He's just the 44th pitcher to get out of a half-inning with nine pitches, though three pitchers — Lefty Grove, Sandy Koufax and Nolan Ryan — did it twice. Philadelphia's Juan Perez and Washington's Jordan Zimmermann both did the deed in 2011. (Here's the list.)
What's kind of interesting is that the list of three-pitch innings is much longer than nine-pitch innings. Wonder how many of them came on getaway days?
Here's Buchholz's pitch chart from the sixth inning (via Brooks Baseball):
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