Sunday, June 08, 2008

Rich Harden: Immaculate!

The Immacualte Inning Blog rises from its ashes to celebrate Rich Harden's Immaculate Inning, thrown today in a game against the Anaheim Angels. The oft-injured Oakland starter gunned down the first three hitters of the game in the following fashion:

Maicer Izturis
Pitch 1: Fastball away (91 mph)- called strike
Pitch 2: Changeup away (86 mph)- foul
Pitch 3: Fastball away (96 mph)- foul tip caught

Howie Kendrick
Pitch 4: Slider low and away (85 mph)- swinging strike
Pitch 5: Fastball away (93 mph)- foul
Pitch 6: Slider in the dirt (87 mph)- swinging strike

Garret Anderson
Pitch 7: Fastball away (93 mph)- called strike
Pitch 8: Fastball away (95 mph)- called strike
Pitch 9: Slider down and in (88 mph)- swinging strike

Our records indicate that this is the 41st Immaculate Inning in baseball history, and Harden is the 39th pitcher to accomplish the feat, and the first since Buddy Carlyle last year. He joins Sandy Koufax, Pedro Martinez, and Rick Helling as the only pitchers to throw immaculate innings to start the game. Harden would go on to finish with nine strikeouts in six innings, but would have to watch from the clubhouse as his teammates took 12 innings to beat the Angels today. Harden now has an astounding 58 strikeouts, good for 15th in the AL despite missing a month with an injury. He's done it in just 47.1 innings, good for a ratio of 11.02 K/9 IP, which ranks first in the majors among pitchers with at least 40 IP.

Jane Lee of describes the situation:

Before that frame, Harden had kept things quiet on the mound -- except for a first-inning performance that had everyone in the Coliseum talking.

The 26-year-old pitcher began the game striking out the side on nine pitches, becoming the first A's player to do so since Lefty Grove did it in 1928.

"I don't think I had ever seen that before," Geren said.

But for Harden, it was "just three outs."

Apparently Harden was more concerned with getting yet another no-decision on the season (his fifth in eight starts). Still, congratulations to Rich Harden, we at Immaculate Inning couldn't help but mark your achievement, even if we're slightly mad at you that you don't go with the nickname "Dick." Your continued health could turn the A's into a juggernaut in the AL West, provided Billy Beane doesn't trade you for ten prospects this July.

In closing, we of course have to give you one of these. Savor it, let it melt in your mouth. You deserve it.

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