Three strikeouts on nine pitches? Whoa, Brothers!

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Rex Brothers of the Colorado Rockies pitches against

Rex Brothers of the Colorado Rockies pitches against the Atlanta Braves in the eighth inning at Coors Field on June 12, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Dustin Bradford

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Anthony Rieber Newsday columnist Anthony Rieber

Anthony Rieber has been at Newsday since Aug. 31, 1998 and in his current position since 2004.

Clayton Kershaw's remarkable 15-strikeout no-hitter on Wednesday was definitely the pitching highlight of the past week.

The previous week's historic pitching performance, though, didn't take nine innings and certainly didn't create a national stir. It took place on June 14 in the eighth inning of a Rockies-Giants game. The pitcher who made the history wasn't even aware he had.

Colorado reliever Rex Brothers retired all three San Francisco batters via strikeout on nine pitches in one inning. The feat -- which has been accomplished only 76 times in baseball history -- has been dubbed "The Immaculate Inning."

Brothers' inning was noteworthy because it was the fifth time a pitcher has struck out the side on nine pitches this season, tying the most in any one year (it also happened in 1998). Brothers joined Tampa Bay's Brad Boxberger, Philadelphia's Cole Hamels, Cleveland's Justin Masterson and the Angels' Garrett Richards.

So if someone does it again this season, an all-time record will be set. Perhaps the game will be stopped. Maybe there will be a ceremony.

Or maybe as with Brothers, no one will realize it happened right away.

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"I came off the field and started thinking about the inning: 'That went pretty well, I guess,' " Brothers told MLB.com. "Not much thought came into my mind about it, but Mr. LaTroy Hawkins, he let me know when I got to the dugout."

Hawkins, the former Yankee and Met, threw his own Immaculate Inning with the Cubs in 2004. But he didn't celebrate -- Hawkins said he didn't find out about the feat until someone mentioned it . . . eight years later!

Ivan Nova was the last Yankee to do it. Last May 29 against the Mets, Nova -- who was pitching in relief -- struck out Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada and Mike Baxter in the eighth inning of a 9-4 Yankees loss.

"It was awesome," Nova, who is out for the season after Tommy John surgery, said the other day. "After I struck out the last one, somebody came and told me that. I was like, 'Oh my God!' After that, it feels great."

The last Mets pitcher to throw an Immaculate Inning was David Cone on Aug. 30, 1991. Cone fanned Cincinnati's Herm Winningham, Randy Myers and Mariano Duncan in the fifth inning of the Mets' 3-2 win.

Cone went six innings and struck out nine for the victory. Myers, best known as a reliever, was the starter and losing pitcher for the Reds.

The first recorded Immaculate Inning was by John Clarkson of the Boston Beaneaters against the Philadelphia Quakers in 1889.

Sandy Koufax is the only man to do it three times -- once each in 1962-'64. Lefty Grove, Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson each did it twice.

Other Hall of Famers on the list include Jim Bunning, Bob Gibson, Robin Roberts, Bruce Sutter, Dazzy Vance and Rube Waddell.

For the Yankees, the feat was accomplished by Al Downing (1967), Ron Guidry (1984) and A.J. Burnett (2009) before Nova.

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"It feels great to be on that list," Nova said. "I don't think it's something you're looking to do. It just happened. I just want to get quick outs -- one pitch. But when you're able to strike out three guys like that, it's amazing."

Speaking of Amazin', Ryan did it for the Mets in 1968 and then again for the California Angels four years later. He's the only pitcher to do it in both leagues. No other Mets have done it.

Of the current Yankees who are strikeout artists, Masahiro Tanaka, through a translator, said he doesn't recall ever having struck out three batters on nine pitches in Japan.

Rookie Dellin Betances said he has done it in the minors. Again, he was not aware of it at the time.

"I didn't notice till I got to the bench and guys mentioned it," Betances said. "It happens quick. It's obviously a good feeling to do. Doesn't happen often."

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