Chris Sale throws immaculate inning

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Red Sox starter Chris Sale struck out three Orioles on nine pitches in the bottom of the seventh inning of Wednesday night’s start in Baltimore. That is what’s known as an “immaculate inning,” and he’s the third pitcher to accomplish the feat this season, joining the Blue Jays’ Thomas Pannone and the Brewers’ Josh Hader.

Sale mowed down Hanser Alberto to start the inning on a pair of sliders followed by a fastball. The lefty then set down Dwight Smith Jr. with a fastball followed by two sliders. To end the inning, Sale ripped increasingly faster fastballs by Stevie Wilkerson.

There have been 96 known immaculate innings. Five have been tossed by members of the Red Sox: Sale, Rick Porcello, Craig Kimbrel, Clay Buchholz, and Pedro Martínez.

Sale brought a no-hit bid into the sixth inning, but lost it with two outs when Joey Rickard singled to center field. He has not pitched well overall this season, but he may be figuring things out. In his last start against the White Sox, he struck out 10 batters over six scoreless innings.

MLB, union resume blood testing after pandemic, lockout

Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK – In the first acknowledgment that MLB and the players’ association resumed blood testing for human growth hormone, the organizations said none of the 1,027 samples taken during the 2022 season tested positive.

HGH testing stopped in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Testing also was halted during the 99-day lockout that ended in mid-March, and there were supply chain issues due to COVID-19 and additional caution in testing due to coronavirus protocols.

The annual public report is issued by Thomas M. Martin, independent program administrator of MLB’s joint drug prevention and treatment program. In an announcement accompanying Thursday’s report, MLB and the union said test processing is moving form the INRS Laboratory in Quebec, Canada, to the UCLA Laboratory in California.

MLB tests for HGH using dried blood spot testing, which was a change that was agreed to during bargaining last winter. There were far fewer samples taken in 2022 compared to 2019, when there were 2,287 samples were collected – none positive.

Beyond HGH testing, 9,011 urine samples were collected in the year ending with the 2022 World Series, up from 8,436 in the previous year but down from 9,332 in 2019. And therapeutic use exemptions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder dropped for the ninth straight year, with just 72 exemptions in 2022.

Overall, the league issued six suspensions in 2022 for performance-enhancing substances: three for Boldenone (outfielder/first baseman Danny Santana, pitcher Richard Rodriguez and infielder Jose Rondon, all free agents, for 80 games apiece); one each for Clomiphene (Milwaukee catcher Pedro Severino for 80 games), Clostebol (San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. for 80 games) and Stanozolol (Milwaukee pitcher J.C. Mejia for 80 games).

There was an additional positive test for the banned stimulant Clobenzorex. A first positive test for a banned stimulant results in follow-up testing with no suspension.