As far as historical achievements go, the “immaculate inning” flies a little bit under the radar.
Even with its appealing alliteration, it’s a bit of a mouthful, but the concept is clear. In order to do it you need to throw an inning composed of three consecutive three-pitch strikeouts.
On Sunday, Thomas Pannone became the 89th pitcher to throw an immaculate inning in major league history. He’s the third Toronto Blue Jay to manage the feat after Roger Clemens and Steve Delabar.
The southpaw started with a perfectly located curveball to Avisail Garcia:
He finished with a generously-called fastball to Daniel Robertson:
In between he mixed in four fastballs, two changeups, and one curveball the Rays couldn’t touch.
As immaculate innings go, it was certainly on the improbable side. Pannone is a relative soft tosser, who managed a K/9 of 6.07 with the Blue Jays last year - albeit largely in a starting role.
The trio of Garcia, Robertson, and Brandon Lowe definitely played their part as they’ve combined for a strikeout rate of 27.6 percent this year. As did home plate umpire Ramon De Jesus.
Ultimately this sequence doesn’t teach us much about Pannone or the hitters involved. It was a freak occurrence. If it wasn’t, more than five pitchers would have managed it more than twice in MLB history.
If Pannone manages another one it might be worth taking notice, though, because those five pitchers are Lefty Grove, Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Sandy Koufax, and Max Scherzer.
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