Just 5 days after an MLB record tieing 7th immaculate inning occurred when Jose Alvarado struck out 3 batters on nine pitches in the ninth inning of a losing effort between the Rays and the Brewers, Rick Porcello threw an immaculate inning of his own in the fifth inning of a game between the Red Sox and the Rays.
The reigning 2016 Cy Young Award winner joined Alvarado, Dellin Betances, Carlos Carrasco, Kenley Jansen, Max Scherzer, Craig Kimbrel, and Drew Storen as one of the eight pitchers to pitch an immaculate inning in 2017.
Porcello faced the six, seven and eight hitters in the inning and obviously had no problem retiring the side. Porcello’s first victim was Trevor Plouffe who fouled off the first pitch then proceeded to whiff on the next two. Following Plouffe was catcher Wilson Ramos who fouled off the first two pitches and then struck out swinging on the third and final pitch of the at-bat. Mallex Smith stuck out to end the inning after watching the first pitch go for a strike, taking a swing at a curveball in the dirt, then struck out looking to help Porcello make history.
Porcello’s was just the fourth immaculate inning in Red Sox history, he joins Craig Kimbrel, Clay Bucholz, and Pedro Martinez as the only Boston Red Sox pitchers to do so. He also joined Kimbrel as one of two Red Sox’ pitchers to pitch an immaculate inning in 2017. It was also the 3rd immaculate inning of 2017 thrown in the 5th inning.
According to 2016 data, the odds of striking out a batter on 3 pitches are 27-1, the odds of striking out 2 batters on 6 pitches are 729-1, and the odds of striking out 3 batters in a row on 9 pitches are 19,683-1, because of this, immaculate innings are rarer than no-hitters and somehow by some force we have seen an MLB record 8 immaculate innings in 2017.
“I didn’t even know,” Porcello said. “It’s hard to keep track if you don’t throw a ball or anything like that. I didn’t realize it until Blaine Boyer came up and said, ‘I got that ball for ya.’ I said, ‘What ball are you talking about?’ He said, ‘The immaculate inning.’ That was pretty cool. It’s hard to do. So it’s a nice little moment.”
Regardless of whether Porcello knew it or not, he had made history. As for the Red Sox, they won the game 8-2 while bringing their lead over the second place Yankees to 4 games.