Photo by Ezra Shaw // Getty Images
If you think no-hitters are rare, think again.
The immaculate inning is one of the hidden statistical gems in the game of baseball, occurring three times less than a no-hitter.
According to SportingCharts.com, it is an “extremely rare feat of a pitcher throwing only nine pitches, all strikes, and getting three outs, in a given half inning.” Four players have accomplished the feat more than once in their career: Lefty Grove, Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax and Randy Johnson.
Yet on Thursday night, Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen became the 80th pitcher in Major League Baseball history to achieve the feat, striking out Derek Dietrich, J. T. Riddle and Ichiro Suzuki in the top of the ninth inning to end the game.
— MLB (@MLB) May 19, 2017
“I just go out there and do my job, and that’s to get outs,” Jansen said. “Everytime I’m out there, I’m going to attack hitters to try and get those outs for my team.”
Jansen’s feat was the team’s first since Todd Worrell threw one back on August 13, 1995 and the fourth immaculate inning pitched in the 2017 season, third to occur in the last eight days.
Image via: Wikipedia // Immaculate Inning
Jansen was called into the game with two outs in the top of the eighth in a save situation (Miami had two men on with the score 5-2) and struck out J. T. Realmuto to end the inning. However, with a hamstring injury to Justin Turner that occurred earlier in the game, Dodgers Head Coach Dave Roberts kept Jansen in to bat for himself in the bottom of the eighth.
Sure enough, Jansen singled for his second career hit and secured his fourth four-out save in the top of the ninth.
— Daren Willman (@darenw) May 19, 2017
Jansen re-signed with the Dodgers this past offseason for a five-year, $80 million contract and has been phenomenal out of the bullpen as the team’s closer, garnering eight saves while posting a 1.13 ERA, 0.69 WHIP and 32 strikeouts (zero walks) in 16 innings of work entering Friday.
Follow Arthur Puu on Twitter: @arthurpuu