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Rex Brothers pitches immaculate inning, the record-tying fifth in MLB in 2014

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

In an odd twist to the 2014 season, we've already seen five immaculate innings from pitchers — defined as three batters and three strikeouts on the minimum nine pitches — in the first 10 weeks of the season. That already ties the single-season MLB record, which was established in 1998, and with more than three months still remaining, there's a good chance a new mark will be set.

Colorado Rockies left-hander Rex Brothers became the latest pitcher to join the exclusive club, striking out Michael Morse, Brandon Crawford and Gregor Blanco of the San Francisco Giants during the eighth inning at AT&T Park. The Rockies trailed by a run at the time, but rallied to defeat San Francisco 5-4 in the ninth inning, meaning Brothers also earned the victory on the mound.

That's about as immaculate as it gets. Meanwhile, Randy Choate had the market cornered on efficiency in St. Louis.  

Making the recent string of immaculate innings all the more impressive is the fact that entering this season, it had only occurred 71 times by 66 different pitchers since 1889. For a little perspective, that's more than 200 fewer than the number of no-hitters (283) in MLB history overall. However, they have outnumbered no-hitters five-to-one during the 2014 season.

The others with immaculate innings this season. 

Brad Boxberger (May 8) — Tampa Bay Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles 

• Cole Hamels (May 17) — Philadelphia Phillies vs. Cincinnati Reds

• Justin Masterson (June 2) — Cleveland Indians vs. Boston Red Sox

• Garrett Richards (June 4) — Los Angeles Anges vs. Houston Astros

Click here for a complete list of immaculate innings in MLB history.

There's no real explanation for the sudden rise. It's just one of those baseball anamolies that pops every season and leaves us searching for answers that aren't there. We could just as easily go the rest of this season and the entire 2015 season without another one. Or it could truly be the year of the immaculate inning. Only time will tell.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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