Did You Know: Immaculate Innings

Only two other pitchers in Red Sox history have accomplished what Craig Kimbrel did in the ninth inning of yesterday’s win in Milwaukee: strike out the side on nine consecutive pitches.

On Thursday afternoon in the ninth inning of an eventual 4-1 Red Sox win against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park, closer Craig Kimbrel struck out Hernan Perez, Travis Shaw, and Domingo Santana to end the game. While not the first time Kimbrel had struck out the side in an inning this season for Boston, what made it remarkable was the fact that he did so on nine consecutive pitches. In Major League Baseball history, 79 pitchers have accomplished this feat, commonly referred to as the immaculate inning, a total of 83 times.

Kimbrel joins Pedro Martinez and Clay Buchholz as the only three Red Sox pitchers to strike three batters on nine pitches in a half-inning. Martinez accomplished his feat almost 15 years ago to the date — 18 May 2002 — in the first inning of a game against the Seattle Mariners, while Buchholz did so in the sixth inning of a game against the Baltimore Orioles on 16 August 2012.

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Catching Up With The Red Sox As The 2017 Season Looms

Need a quick primer on the team as we launch into another season? Don’t worry, everyone; there is life after Big Papi.

Don’t look now, but the Boston Red Sox open the 2017 season at Fenway Park in just ten days. TEN DAYS! If you haven’t been following the fun at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers for the past month-plus – heck, if you haven’t kept up since the team was swept by Cleveland in the ALDS – then here is a quick summary to get you caught up with the local nine before they return north from sunny Fort Myers to chilly New England.

The Rotation

The Red Sox may have won the offseason last December when they sent top prospect Yoan Moncada and three other players to the White Sox in exchange for five time All-Star southpaw Chris Sale. Sale has not disappointed this spring; in 16 innings pitched in Grapefruit League action, he has struck out 20 with a WHIP of 1.06, and even held the Yankees, Boston’s biggest rival, to just two runs over six innings pitched on Tuesday in Tampa. Coupled with 2016 Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello, David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Steven Wright and backed by Drew Pomeranz and Kyle Kendrick, this rotation is arguably one of the best in the league, making the team early favorites to win another World Series.

Price will begin the season on the DL due to elbow issues that popped up during camp, but he is gaining strength day-by-day and, with effective monitoring and a full-blown throwing program, should return to the team within a month after the season begins. One pitcher who won’t return is Clay Buchholz whom, after ten up-and-down seasons with the Red Sox, Boston traded to the Phillies in December.

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Red Sox Open 2016 Schedule With 25 Man Roster Set

With David Ortiz set to retire at season’s end, will the Boston Red Sox reward him and the fans with a fourth championship since 2004?

It may be difficult to believe that just three years ago, the Boston Red Sox were World Series champions, but when you factor in three losing seasons in the past four years, it’s not hard to fathom. With designated hitter David Ortiz set to retire at season’s end, will Boston reward him and the fans with a fourth championship since 2004?

Boston is set open the 2016 regular reason today in Cleveland against the Indians. The Red Sox, who followed the 2013 championship season with two straight last place finishes in the American League East, will be managed for a fourth year by John Farrell, who returns to the helm after undergoing treatment for lymphoma that caused him to miss several games at the end of last season. Boston will play an additional road series in Toronto against the Blue Jays before opening Fenway Park next Monday versus the Baltimore Orioles.

Many familiar faces return from last season; besides Ortiz, the roster features newly minted first baseman Hanley Ramirez, second baseman Dustin Pedroia, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, outfielder Mookie Betts, and starting pitchers Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly, and Rick Porcello. Another familiar face who returns as a starter this season is infielder Brock Holt, who was the lone representative for Boston at last year’s All Star Game.

Some of the new faces are already familiar to Boston fans. Pitcher David Price, who faced the Red Sox several times as a Tampa Bay starting pitcher, joins the club with the richest contract ever given in franchise history (seven years, $217 million). Chris Young, formally with the Yankees, begins the season as a reserve outfielder. One player less familiar to fans but prepared to make an impact is Craig Kimbrel, who signed as a free agent after six years split between the Braves and the Padres; he takes over the closer spot from Koji Uehara, who becomes Boston’s newest set up man.

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