Move over, Sandy Koufax. You have immaculate company.
Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale threw what is known as an immaculate inning in the third frame of Thursday's game against the Minnesota Twins. That occurs when the pitcher tallies three strikeouts on nine pitches in a single inning, and the southpaw did so by striking out Nick Gordon, Andrelton Simmons and Rob Refsnyder.
Sale also joined Koufax as the only pitchers to have such an inning three different times:
Friday was just Sale's third start of the season after he missed the 2020 campaign because of Tommy John surgery. In fact, his start Aug. 14 was his first since Aug. 13 during the 2019 season.
Thus far, he has been his typically dominant self.
He allowed two earned runs while striking out eight in five innings in his first start against the Baltimore Orioles and then pitched five shutout innings with five strikeouts in his second start against the Texas Rangers.
And now, he joined Koufax in the history books in his third start.
Boston played its way into playoff contention even before Sale returned this season and is now holding onto the final American League wild-card spot ahead of the Oakland Athletics. While asking Sale to be the version of himself that was a seven-time All-Star who helped lead the Red Sox to the 2018 World Series may be too much to ask, he has already impressed.
If he can continue pitching like he has in his first three starts, Boston figures to remain a threat in the American League as the season approaches the stretch run.