In the seventh inning of a game between the Philadelphia Athletics and the Chicago White Sox on September 27, 1928, Athletics Lefty Grove hit Moe Berg, Tommy Thomas, and Johnny Mostell using a minimum of nine pitches.
It will take 9,112 days – just under 25 years – before the so-called immaculate role is cast. Although this guy, courtesy of Billy Hooft of the Detroit Tigers in 1953, also came up against the White Sox.
If you thought fates were plotting against the White Sox because of this, consider what happened to the Texas Rangers on Wednesday.
In the second half of a game between the Houston Astros and Rangers at Globe Live Field in Arlington, Texas, the Astros’ right-handed Luis Garcia scored a clean run by hitting Nathaniel Lowe, Ezequiel Duran and Brad Miller by just nine pitches. Five innings later, Astros right-back Phil Mattoon did exactly the same thing – while facing the same three-strokes. They were the pure 106th and 107th innings in major league history.
The Astros went on to win, 9-2The Rangers tried to find out what hit them.
“Obviously we knew they were cruising really well,” Miller said of Garcia and Mattoon. “I wish I’d done some flips better, and I hope they don’t get it.”
Houston catcher Martin Maldonado told reporters he can’t remember having a great game at any level, let alone two in the same game.
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“Relax, okay? Don’t try to hit everyone. Blows are boring! Besides, they’re fascists. Throw some globes, it would be more democratic.”
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“To be a part of that, any time you make history – I’m glad I was noticed in this situation,” he said.
The Clean Round was a mind-boggling event in many ways, as it was not only the first time this feat had come against the same three-stroke, but the first time that two such rounds had been played on the same date, let alone in the same game. .
Against Garcia, Rangers managed to smash five of his nine pitches. Two hitters swung and missed the third hit while one fell on the wrong end caught by Maldonado. Mattoon was a bit more dominant, with hits from just three courts contaminated, with the naysayers scoring on the wrong end, hitting hit and swinging.
In a fun twist, Garcia kept things going for a brief period in the third inning by hitting Liudi Taveras in three pitches. This resulted in him receiving an impressive four strokes across 12 pitches.
While still rare, the clean-stroke, like no-hitters and hitters in general, is becoming more and more popular thanks to the all-or-nothing approach that modern hitters and shooters follow.
Between 1876 and 1921, there were only three recorded cases of a pure role. In the 1920s, there were five, and Grove was the last of them. There were none in the 1930s or ’40s, and while the next few decades saw a handful each, things took a notable turn with 17 in the ’90s and 14 in the 2000s.
It looks like the pitchers are just getting started. There were 37 pure rounds in the 2010s and 2020s already having nine despite the pandemic that has cut the 2020 regular season down to 60 games from 162, and 2022 is just in its third month.
Barring a major change in strategy by hitters and shooters, the feat should continue to be a semi-regular event. But that happening twice in a game, against the same three hitters, is strange enough that it could stand out for decades to come.
“It feels very good,” Garcia told reporters. “I am very happy for me and for Phil. I do not know what to say. I am happy.”
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