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Marquez tosses immaculate inning vs. Bucs

Righty fires second such frame for Rockies, first at Coors Field
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- Rockies right-hander German Marquez was too busy putting his outing back on the rails to realize he pulled off a rare immaculate inning. He accomplished three straight strikeouts -- on three pitches apiece for a total of nine -- in the fourth inning of Wednesday's 4-3 loss to the Pirates.

Marquez was down, 3-0, at the time. He fanned the top of the Pirates' order -- Corey Dickerson, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco -- all on curveballs. Marquez became the second pitcher in Rockies history -- and first at Coors Field -- to accomplish the feat. Lefty reliever Rex Brothers did it on June 14, 2014 at San Francisco, against Michael Morse, Brandon Crawford and Gregor Blanco.

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DENVER -- Rockies right-hander German Marquez was too busy putting his outing back on the rails to realize he pulled off a rare immaculate inning. He accomplished three straight strikeouts -- on three pitches apiece for a total of nine -- in the fourth inning of Wednesday's 4-3 loss to the Pirates.

Marquez was down, 3-0, at the time. He fanned the top of the Pirates' order -- Corey Dickerson, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco -- all on curveballs. Marquez became the second pitcher in Rockies history -- and first at Coors Field -- to accomplish the feat. Lefty reliever Rex Brothers did it on June 14, 2014 at San Francisco, against Michael Morse, Brandon Crawford and Gregor Blanco.

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Video: COL@SF: Brothers pitches immaculate inning vs. Giants

"It's great," Marquez said in Spanish, with first-base coach Tony Diaz translating. "I wasn't aware of that. I'm glad to be on that list. It's exciting, and I'm glad that it worked out."

The feat came and went before catcher Tony Wolters knew it, as well.

"It was super quick," Wolters said. "I was like, dang, he threw a quick inning. That was nice. It was more like, 'Dude? I think of Marquez as a guy who punches guys out. I expect him to strike guys out.' But I didn't really realize he was doing that."

It was part of an odd day for Marquez, who gave up 10 hits in six innings, but also struck out 10. This occurred against a Pirates offense that entered with the fewest strikeouts in the National League. The result was Marquez allowed just three runs -- a winnable performance if not for the struggles of the Rockies' offense

Video: PIT@COL: Marquez fans Hechavarria for 10th strikeout

"To look at that, you'd think that if a guy gives up that many hits, his stuff isn't that good because they're getting hits," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "And to strike out 10 in six innings, you're thinking, 'Wow. He must have great stuff.' It's one of those anomalies in baseball."

Such innings are rare and random. There were none from 1929-52, but there were eight occurrences alone in 2017. Marquez's was the third this season. Kevin Gausman, with the Orioles (before he was traded to the Braves) did it on April 23 against the Indians' Yonder Alonso, Yan Gomes and Bradley Zimmer, and the Nationals' Max Scherzer accomplished it against the Rays' Johnny Field, Christian Arroyo and Daniel Robertson on June 5.

Video: TB@WSH: Scherzer K's Robertson for immaculate inning

But the curveball that fueled the anomaly might become more common. The put-away pitch on nine of of Marquez's 10 strikeouts Wednesday was the curveball. In his previous start, a win at Milwaukee when he went seven three-hit innings, all nine strikeouts were on curves.

"Mechanically, I'm staying tall more consistently, and therefore I create better angle so the hitters don't pick it up as soon," Marquez said. "With the deception it creates on the break, it's a lot more lethal."

Marquez entered his special inning with some momentum. In the bottom of the third, Marquez delivered the Rockies' first hit of the game, a single off the Pirates' Chris Archer. The hit brought Marquez's batting average to .357, which leads all pitchers, and was his ninth in his last 18 at-bats over eight games.

Video: PIT@COL: Marquez keeps swinging a hot bat

Marquez and Wolters didn't even have time to discuss strategy.

"I was like, 'Hey Marqy, let's focus on hitting and we'll talk after," Wolters said.

The way he pitched, no conversation was needed.

In the bottom of the fourth, David Dahl's two-run homer off Archer cut the Rockies' deficit to 3-2, but the Rockies never gained the lead.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, German Marquez