In the seventh inning of a game between the Philadelphia Athletics and the Chicago White Sox. On October 27, 1928, Lefty Grove eliminated Mo Berg, Tommy Thomas, and Johnny Mostil from the track and field using only a minimum of nine pitches.
It will be 9,112 days – just under 25 years – before another so-called flawless inning is thrown. Although the one courtesy of Billy Hoft of the Detroit Tigers in 1953 also went up against the White Sox.
If you thought fate conspired against the White Sox because of this, consider what happened to the Texas Rangers on Wednesday.
In the second inning of a game between the Houston Astros and the Rangers at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, Astros right-hander Luis Garcia recorded a flawless inning, eliminating Nathaniel Lowe, Ezequiel Duran and Brad Miller with just nine pitches. Five innings later, Phil Maton, the Astros’ right reliever, did the same, facing the same three batters. These were the 106th and 107th flawless pitches in major league history.
The Astros kept winning 9-2while the rangers tried to figure out what hit them.
“Of course we knew they were flying pretty well,” Miller said of Garcia and Maton. “I wish I had done some better shots and I wish they didn’t get it.”
Martin Maldonado, a Houston catcher, told reporters he can’t remember ever having a perfect inning at any level, let alone two in one game.
“Being a part of it, every time you make history – I’m glad I got into that situation,” he said.
The two flawless innings were stunning events in many ways, as not only was it the first time the feat had been accomplished against the same three batters, it was the first time two such innings had been played on the same day without saying already about in the same game.
In the Garcia game, Rangers batters managed to foul five of his nine innings. Two batters swung and missed for the third, and one went down due to a foul caught by Maldonado. Mathon was slightly more dominant, with batters only fouling on three fields, and outs were registered on a foul type caused by a strike and a swinging strike.
Ironically, Garcia briefly backed things up in the third inning, knocking out Leodie Taveras in three innings. This gave him a remarkable four strikeouts in 12 fields.
Although flawless innings are still rare, flawless innings, like no hitters and strikeouts in general, have become much more common due to the all-or-nothing approach of modern hitters and pitchers.
Between 1876 and 1921, only three flawless innings were recorded. There were five in the 1920s, Grove being the last. There were none in the 1930s or 1940s, and although there were only a few in the next few decades, the situation changed markedly: 17 in the 1990s and 14 in the 2000s.
The pitchers seemed to be just getting started. There were 37 perfect innings in the 2010s, and there were already nine in the 2020s, despite the pandemic cutting the 2020 regular season to 60 games from 162, and 2022 is only in its third month.
Barring major changes in hitter and pitcher strategy, this feat should remain a semi-regular occurrence. But that it happens twice in a game against the same three batters is odd enough that it could stand out for decades to come.
“This is so nice. This is history,” Garcia told reporters. “I am so happy for myself and for Phil. I do not know what to say. I’m just happy.”