ST. PETERSBURG -- Right-hander Rick Porcello tore through the fifth inning so quickly in the Red Sox's 8-2 win vs. the Rays on Wednesday night at Tropicana Field that he didn't realize he had authored an immaculate inning and a piece of Major League Baseball history.
Porcello required only the minimum nine pitches to strike out three Rays in the fifth. The reigning American League Cy Young Award winner fanned Trevor Plouffe on a slider and Wilson Ramos on a four-seam fastball, with Mallex Smith taking a called strike three on a two-seamer over the inside edge.
"It's hard to keep track when you don't throw a ball or anything like that," Porcello said. "I didn't realize it until Blaine [Boyer] came up here and said, 'I got that ball for you.' And I was like, 'What ball are you talking about?' He said, 'The immaculate inning.'
"It was pretty cool. It's hard to do, so it's a nice little moment."
Porcello authored the Majors' eighth immaculate inning this season, setting a single-season big league record. For comparison, four immaculate innings were thrown throughout all the 1980s, and three were tossed in the 1950s. With strikeouts up in today's game, three pitchers have achieved the feat in the past eight days. Last Friday, Rays reliever Jose Alvarado threw an immaculate inning on the same mound as Porcello did Wednesday.
The immaculate inning was also the second thrown in 2017 by a Boston pitcher, as closer Craig Kimbrel tossed one against the Brewers on May 11.
"Sometimes you don't see it too much from a starter," manager John Farrell said. "Maybe there's a [situation], in Craig's case, where there's a power reliever comes in and you're fresh, and you're powerful with some swing and miss [stuff]. But I think that speaks to the command that Rick had early on. He finishes off with a backdoor cutter to Smith. Just a good assortment of pitches, good command up through that point."
The Sox now have four immaculate innings in team history, with Pedro Martinez throwing the first in 2002 against the Mariners and Clay Buchholz throwing one in 2012 vs. the Orioles.