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.
The Washington Nationals, fresh off signing Stephen Strasburg to a $245 million deal, are now turning their attention to their third base hole. Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that they have made inquiries to the Chicago Cubs about trading for Kris Bryant.
Emphasis on the word “inquiry” because it’d be premature for the Cubs to trade Bryant at the moment, even if they are reported to be considering the possibility.
Bryant and the Cubs are awaiting word from an arbitrator about Bryant’s years-old service time grievance. If Bryant wins, he becomes a free agent after the 2020 season. If the Cubs win they control him for two more years. The team may or may not choose to trade him in either case as they are reportedly trying to cut payroll, but the price for him will vary pretty significantly depending on whether or not the acquiring club will receive one or two years of control over the former MVP.
For Washington, this would be a means of replacing free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon. Or, perhaps, the inquiries are a means of creating a tad more leverage for the Nats as they talk to Rendon’s agent about re-signing him.
Which, in the past, the Nats said they could not do if they also re-signed Strasburg, though I suspect that’s just posturing too. They may not want to spend big money to keep their World Series core together, but they can afford it. They’re going to see, I suspect, an eight-figure uptick in revenue by virtue of being the defending World Series champs. They are poised to receive a significant payout as a result of recent rulings in their own multi-year dispute with the Orioles and the MASN network. They are, of course, owned by billionaire real estate moguls. All of that taken together means that, if they choose to, they can bring back Rendon. Assuming he chooses to come back too.
But, if that doesn’t happen, they appear to be giving themselves options at the hot corner.