Major League Baseball goes back a long way, but it had never seen — and may never see again — what unfolded Wednesday at Globe Life Field.
Making the sequence all the more noteworthy was that the Houston pitchers victimized the same three Texas batters: Nathaniel Lowe, Ezequiel Duran and Brad Miller.
According to MLB.com, this was the first time in major league history that two immaculate innings were pitched on the same day, let alone in the same game.
“We obviously knew they were cruising pretty good,” Miller said after the game, a 9-2 Astros win. “I wish I would have taken some better swings and wish they didn’t get it.”
“To be part of that, anytime you make history … I’m glad I was catching in that situation,” said Houston’s Martín Maldonado, a 35-year-old in his 12th major league season. He said he couldn’t recall being involved in an immaculate inning at any level.
In all, there have been 105 immaculate innings on record in the majors. The 103rd was accomplished this season by the New York Yankees’ Nestor Cortes against the Baltimore Orioles.
The Astros are now tied with the Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers for most immaculate innings, with each franchise accounting for nine of them. Eight of those innings notched by the Astros, who started play in 1962 as the Colt .45s, have come since 1991.
“It’s super cool,” Maton said. “It’s not something you go out here every day and obviously strive to do. Obviously, you’re trying to strike out every hitter you face. Still kind of trying to wrap my head around it. Cool experience.”
After Maton’s final strike to Miller ended the seventh, Maldonado threw the ball to third baseman Alex Bregman out of force of habit.
“Everybody in the dugout was like: ‘I need that ball! I need that ball!’ ” the catcher said afterward.
When Maton and Garcia got back to their lockers, they each found a ball from their respective immaculate innings marked with an authentication sticker.
“After I got the second strikeout, I already knew [I had a chance],” Garcia said. “When I was throwing a perfect game in the fifth [earlier this year], I didn’t want to think of that, but this time I thought of it. I said, ‘Let’s go for it.’ I’m glad that happened.”
A 25-year-old in his second full major league season, Garcia lowered his season ERA to 3.41 by allowing one earned run in six innings Wednesday, including nine strikeouts. After Maton unfurled his dominant seventh inning, Houston relievers Seth Martinez and Brandon Bielak closed out a lopsided win that also happened to take place on Manager Dusty Baker’s 73rd birthday.
“A couple of records, the same guys we struck them out back-to-back-to-back with nine pitches. … So it was a good day for us,” Baker said.