After a really great game, it might be said of a pitcher that he was throwing "nothing but strikes." Every once in awhile, at least for one inning, this is completely correct. Some pitchers have the idea that a perfect inning consists of three pitches.
Three fly balls, three groundouts, whatever. Just get it over with and let the defense win it for you. But these pitchers realize the beauty of a truly perfect inning. A nine strike inning. You can imagine how it goes...
The first batter comes up, just wanting to get on base. Strike one-he shakes it off, lucky pitch. Strike two-he swings for it, just over anxious, he'll get the next one. Strike three-he returns to the bench, mumbling something about how the pitch was actually inside. Next guy up. He falls prey to the breaking ball, gets him every time. Two outs. Last one comes to the plate. He has a hungry look in his eye, he'll at least battle for a walk. He is mistaken.
No matter how it happens, when a pitcher's on, he's on. So here's to Sandy Koufax and Nolan Ryan. To Lefty Grove and Randy Johnson. To the men who redefined just what it means to have an immaculate inning.
" Ryan is the only guy who puts fear in me. Not because he can get you out, but because he can kill you." - Reggie Jackson (on Nolan Ryan : a two-time member of the 9 pitch / 9 strike Club) in Baseball Digest (December 1974, Jackie Lapin, 'Nolan Ryan: The Pitcher Batterts Hate to Face', Page 41)
American League Immaculate Innings In Chronological Order
National League Immaculate Innings In Chronological Order
When Nolan Ryan retired the side on nine pitches / nine strikes with the California Angels he became the first and only pitcher to accomplish this unique feat once during both the American (1972) & National League (1968).
Did you know that the first four pitchers in Major League history to accomplish this feat twice, happen to be members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame ? The fifth, Max Scherzer , is well on his way to Cooperstown as well...
Over one-hundred forty years of Major League Baseball history, millions of pitches thrown by thousands of different pitchers and only one-hundred known / recorded instances by ninety-four different pitchers — this is truly an amazing feat!