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What is an immaculate inning in baseball? Angels’ rookie pitcher Reid Detmers makes history

Reid Detmers added another special performance to his first season, one of the few good things happening to his team, as he threw an immaculate inning.

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - JULY 31: Reid Detmers #48 of the Los Angeles Angels pitches in the second inning against the Texas Rangers at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 31, 2022 in Anaheim, California.   Katharine Lotze/Getty Images/AFP
Katharine LotzeAFP

The Los Angeles Angels are in need of good news after another lost year in the primes of Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. There is no longer any chance they get to the playoffs, Trout is suffering from some scary back issues and Ohtani may count as two players in one, but he cannot be the whole team, and that’s supposing that he will not get traded in the coming days. Angels’ fans need to see some other hitters or pitchers doing good things so they can hope for a turnaround in 2023, and rookie Reid Detmers did so yesterday by pitching an immaculate inning.

What is an immaculate inning?

MLB pitching is ahead of hitting right now, and even if they juice the ball so that there can be more home runs, there are a lot of strikeouts in every game. Last season, with a deadened ball, there were nine no-hitters, a record in the modern era. This season, there have been just three so far, but we have seen another pitching feat take place more than usual this year: the immaculate inning.

One inning, three batters, three strikeouts, each strikeout on just three pitches. Those are the elements needed to achieve an immaculate inning, a rare occurrence in which the pitcher needs to be in control and throw nine consecutive strikes without any of the hitters making any contact with the ball. They can be composed of both called strikes and swinging strikes, but the ball will only go from pitcher to catcher nine straight times, and the inning will be over.

The immaculate inning was almost impossible during some eras of baseball, with none happening between 1929 and 1952, but pitchers speed and location improvements have made them more common, with Detmers being the fourth this season. Last year Max Scherzer threw the fifth one at the end of the 2021 season.

Reid Detmers immaculate inning was historic

The Angels’ rookie sent down Ezequiel Duran, Kole Calhoun and Charlie Culberson in the second inning of a game between his team and the Texas Rangers. The LHP had a great performance in which he pitched seven innings and had 12 strikeouts, but in typical Angels fashion the bullpen blew up the game and they lost 5-2.

Detmers got Duran to strike out on a slider, chasing the third pitch of the inning, the same pitch he used three straight times with Calhoun before finishing the inning with his fastball against Culberson. Detmers’ immaculate inning showed him in control of his two most effective pitches, which have made him have a 111 ERA+ that is good both for a rookie pitcher and an Angels’ pitcher.

The 23-year-old made history yesterday becoming just the third player to throw both a no-hitter and an immaculate inning in the same season, next to legend Sandy Koufax (1962, ‘63, ‘64) and Mike Fiers (2015). He threw a no-hitter back in May in a game where the Angels demolished the Rays thanks to him, Trout and Ohtani, and thanks to yesterday’s immaculate inning, this makes him the first rookie ever to accomplish both those feats in his first season.

This was the fourth immaculate inning in MLB this season, after those of Yankees’ Cortés, and Astros’ García and Maton both getting one on the same game.

The Angels keep sliding

If your pitcher throws an immaculate inning in a 7.0 innings performance where he gives up just one earned run and you still lose, there may be a problem. Or more than one, in the Angels’ case, as Trout’s status for the season is not yet known. Oh, well, at least they are also hitting under the Mendoza Line for a full month.


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