Last night, Chris Martin ensured that he will be remembered in baseball history for years and years to come. He’s likely not on Hall-of-Fame track — shoot, he’s probably not even on “Hall-of-Very, Very Good” track at that. He will be remembered for doing something that’s only happened 99 times in recorded baseball history. Chris Martin wrote his name into the history books of Major League Baseball by tossing an immaculate inning for the Atlanta Braves.
To give you an idea of how rare this type of thing is, it’s the first time that this has happened for a Braves pitcher since 2007. Buddy Carlyle etched his name in stone when he victimized the Padres across nine magical pitches and before he threw his immaculate inning, Joey McLaughlin did it all the way back in 1979 against the Giants. As far as Atlanta Braves history goes, that’s it. What you’re looking at in the video below is a truly rare gem in baseball history.
Chris Martin's immaculate inning. pic.twitter.com/2whPpck1JD— handlit33 (@handlit33) September 12, 2019
It’s only happened three times for the team’s history in Atlanta and there were three immaculate innings in the franchise's history outside of Atlanta. Tony Cloniger did it for the Milwaukee Braves in 1963 and then Joe Oeschger threw the first one in Braves history back in 1921, back when the team was in Boston. You have to go all the way back to the days of the Boston Beaneaters to find the first immaculate inning thrown in franchise history — the honor went to John Clarkson, who was the first pitcher in major league history to accomplish the feat all the way back in 1889.
Chris Martin can now count himself a member of a club that’s been rapidly growing. Martin’s immaculate inning was the 99th in baseball history, but it was also the 36th instance of it happening since the 2010 season began. To put that in perspective, it didn’t happen at all during four seasons from 1990-2010, there were only four instances of it during the 1980s and there have been two separate instances in baseball history of immaculate inning droughts where the moment didn’t happen for up to five years. Despite the fact that the club is expanding at a breakneck pace, it’s still a special club to be part of.
Despite the fact that Chris Martin made baseball history, the increase of immaculate innings over recent seasons is probably the reason why the reaction in the moment wasn’t really a moment of awe or admiration. Chip Caray wasn’t exactly sure until Jeff Francoeur quickly confirmed it for him. The radio crew of Jim Powell and Joe Simpson didn’t point it out until the top the next inning, which is when they were calmly reverential in the moment. It was a cool moment, but the announcers treated more like a “Good job kid, here’s a pat on the butt” moment, which is not the direction I would have gone in.
I’m not saying that I would have done a better job. I don’t blame them for barely noticing! Being a good sports commentator is very difficult and I’m not going to sit here on the internet and tell you that I’d do better than what they did. Instead, I’d just eschew any signs of professionalism by completely freaking out. Even though we are quite obviously living in the gold rush age of immaculate innings, it’s still something that should be cherished whenever you see it.
So with that in mind, I would have been acting like the entire WCW announcing crew when Goldberg beat Hulk Hogan at the Georgia Dome. I would have been losing my voice like Jim Ross at the end of every big WWE main event from around 20 years ago. “CHRIS MARTIN, CHRIS MARTIN, BAH GAWD, CHRIS MARTIN” would have been ringing through your television speakers and I would have been deservedly fired afterwards. I would have been a mess, and that’s why I’m not on TV or any other forms of vocal media.
If you think that all of the players were impressed, then think again. Here’s what Tyler Flowers had to say when Paul Casella asked him about it:
Though Martin was the first Braves pitcher to accomplish the feat since Buddy Carlyle on July 6, 2007, Atlanta catcher Tyler Flowers wasn’t all that impressed.
”Is it that big of a deal?” Flowers quipped. “I only say that because I threw the ball in the stands and then [Mike] Soroka and [Max] Fried started yelling at me and I was like, ‘What?’ So I’m playing it off like it’s not a big deal, because I threw it away.
Even Tyler Flowers didn’t realize the gravity of the moment and he was the one catching the balls! Bless Mike Soroka and Max Fried for knowing what was up. While it was reported that the trio of Soroka, Fried and Jerry Blevins were all in on ribbing Flowers for throwing that ball away, Flowers was at least cognizant of the fact that Chris Martin was in the zone (in more ways than one) during that inning.
“Pretty pinpoint with his heater,” Flowers said. “When I asked for it up, I probably could have closed my eyes, he was putting it right there. He was pretty darn good.”
To prove it, here’s a look at a couple of charts from Martin’s outing. Here are the types of pitches he threw:
And here’s the results of each pitch:
He got them to chase a couple of high pitches and then he bamboozled Jay Bruce with the ball in the dirt. Other than that, he was absolutely pumping the strike zone (as you would expect when you get out of an inning on nine pitches and three strikeouts) and none of his called strikes were mistakes. This was a thing of beauty and Chris Martin has every right to be proud of that inning.
The current state of baseball has resulted in strikeouts skyrocketing and as such, this explains the rise in immaculate innings over recent seasons. That means that while it’s still tough and a rare feat, it’s no longer the exclusive territory of Hall-of-Fame-caliber pitchers or pitchers who are/were approaching that level. This isn’t to say that your average joe can just go out there and throw nine pitches for three strikeouts and join this exclusive club whenever he wants — I’m saying that you probably never expected all the way back in March that a reliever in the Atlanta Braves bullpen would pull off the feat here in the year 2019.
The fact that the Braves finally have quality pitchers in the bullpen to accomplish such a feat is amazing. It took a little longer than expected, but the deadline acquisitions that Alex Anthopoulos made are starting to pay off. The proof is in what Chris Martin’s immaculate inning. While we likely won’t see another immaculate inning from the Braves this season, we’re probably going to be in for plenty of clean innings from this bullpen during this season and in October as well. An immaculate inning could be the sign of an immaculate season for the Braves once it’s all said and done this year.