Craig Kimbrel entered a game against the Brewers in the eighth inning with one out and the score tied at 1-1. He was able to get out of the inning without any issues, striking out the two batters he faced that inning.
Then in the top of the ninth, Mookie Betts hit a go-ahead 3-run bomb to make the score 4-1 in the Red Sox favor.
Kimbrel came in to close out the ninth inning which is of course not a big deal considering that he is a closer, but what happened next was very special.
The first batter of the bottom of the ninth for the Brew Crew was Hernan Perez who had a strike looking on his first pitch, and two strikes swinging on the second and third as he was struck out on three pitches. The next batter was Travis Shaw who did not even swing his bat and was retired on three pitches. The third and final batter of the inning was Domingo Santana who started his at-bat with a foul ball, but like Perez, he was struck out two pitches later after two whiffs.
Just like that Craig Kimbrel became just the third Red Sox pitcher to throw an immaculate inning. The first Red Sox pitcher to accomplish the feat was Pedro Martinez (2002) who was followed up ten years later by Clay Buchholz (2012) who was followed up five years later by Craig Kimbrel (2017).
If you are unfamiliar with the concept of an immaculate inning, allow me to break it down. An immaculate inning is when a pitcher throws nine pitches in an inning and gets three strikeouts. So every batter you face in an immaculate inning would have to go down 1-2-3.
The crazy thing about this is that in over 130 years of this game’s existence, and of the millions of pitches thrown by thousands of different pitchers, only 82 pitchers have accomplished the feat.
Kimbrel is the first pitcher to throw an immaculate inning in the American League since Brandon McCarthy did so in 2014. He is the second pitcher to throw an immaculate inning in 2017 (Drew Storen being the first).
This was not a fluke either since Kimbrel is having a fantastic 2017 with a 1.15 ERA, with 10 saves and a 31/2 K/BB ratio in 15 2/3 innings. This has definitely been a bounce back year so far for Kimbrel, let’s see if he can keep it up.