Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Immaculate Inning: Daniel Bard

We at Immaculate Inning take a lot of pride in chronicling the rare feat which gives our blog its name; that is, striking out three batters in an inning using just nine pitches. It has only happened 41 times in major league history, but unfortunately we have no idea how common the feat is at the minor leagues. A few years ago it came to our attention that Chris Mason twirled an Immaculate Inning in a AA game. The immaculate inning fires take a while to get stroked with these minor league games, but we are proud to recount the feat of Red Sox prospect Daniel Bard. Major hat-tip to the Projo Sox Blog for bringing the performance to my attention.

Daniel Bard is a 23-year old righthander pitching for the Pawtucket Sox in AAA. He finished last season at AA, retiring 20 of his final 23 batters; that domination has continued into this season, as he sports a 1.69 ERA and has struck out 18 in 10.3 innings. One of those innings, and three of those strikeouts, came against the Rochester Red Wings on April 22. Some video of the immaculate inning can be found here.

The batters were Jason Pridie, Matt Tolbert, and Luke Hughes, the first three batters in the Rochester order. All of them are career minor leaguers, although the 23 year old Hughes appears to be a legit prospect. Pridie appears to go down swinging on three straight fastballs right down the pipe. Tolbert follows the advice of a nearby heckler ("swing!") and misses at three more fastballs from Bard. Some kind of offspeed pitch (curveball) is taken for a strike by Hughes before he swings way late on two fastballs, the second around his eyes. Bard, meanwhile, looks to be rather bored with AAA pitching, and should expect a call up to the majors sometime this season. Regardless of his future, Bard has solidified a place in history with his immaculate inning, and we offer him the highest congratulations!