Helsley continues incredible year with immaculate inning

September 17th, 2022

ST. LOUIS -- It wasn’t until his eighth pitch of the ninth inning, Cardinals closer Ryan Helsley insisted, that it dawned on him that an immaculate inning was within grasp. Then, he let loose his fastest slider of the night to end the game and record some history.

When Helsley needed just nine pitches -- all of them strikes -- to fan Reds hitters Kyle Farmer, Jake Fraley and Donovan Solano -- it gave him just the third immaculate inning in Cardinals history, joining Bob Gibson (seventh inning, 1969, vs, the Dodgers) and Jason Isringhausen (ninth inning, 2002, vs. the Astros), and the 109th in AL/NL history.

“It was after the 8th [strike] after he fouled it off, and I thought, ‘Hey, I’ve got one shot at it, so I’m going to try and rip the best pitch of the night, and it succeeded,” said Helsley, who recorded his 18th save of the season. “It’s really cool. After the game, [catcher Andrew] Knizner was already on it. He came up to me and was like, ‘You’re No. 109 and only three have happened in Cardinals history.’ He was already on it. It’s really cool, and I’m honored to be a part of that group.”

Helsley, who is in the midst of his finest MLB season, has recorded several meaningful firsts this season. His 103.1 mph pitch May 1 was the fastest pitch in Major League Baseball for a time. In July, he made the MLB All-Star Game for the first time and became the second pitcher in the pitch-tracking era to hit 103 mph, and he did it twice. Later, he and wife Alex welcomed the birth of their first child, daughter Eliana.

So, where would Helsley rank the immaculate inning compared to those major accomplishments this season?

“I think they all kind of have their special place,” he said. “I’m just trying to show what I’m working hard for and what I can do when I’m healthy.”