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What is an immaculate inning? How to achieve the feat more rare than a no-hitter

Michael Kopech threw the White Sox's second immaculate inning in franchise history on Wednesday

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White Sox's Michael Kopech tossed an immaculate inning in the ninth against the Twins on Wednesday, achieving the feat more rare than a no-hitter for the second time in franchise history.

But what is an immaculate inning?

An immaculate inning, simply, is recording three strikeouts in nine total pitches. Nine pitches, nine strikes. A pitcher who strikes out three batters using only three pitches for each at-bat achieves the immaculate inning.

No, foul balls do not count towards an immaculate inning unless they are committed during the first or second strike of the at-bat. It has to be three strikeouts in a row using solely nine pitches.

On Wednesday, Kopech struck out Brooks Lee on a third strike looking at a 100-mile-per-hour fastball after he fouled off the first two pitches. Against Matt Wallner, he got him swinging on another 100-mile-per-hour fastball after fouling off and swinging at two prior fastballs. Finally, against Max Kepler, Kopech got him swinging on (guess what) another 100-mile-per-hour fastball after burning two cutters by him.

Michael Kopech ended the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader vs. the Twins with an immaculate nine-pitch inning

"I was telling guys in there, I'm trying not to lie about it but I was thinking about it from pitch four," Kopech said of the immaculate inning after the game. "As soon as I realized there were no balls on the board I wanted to finish that feat off. It feels good, but I would've never thought about it again if I threw a ball in there at some point. Glad to have a clean inning and get the win."

Kopech's immaculate inning marks the first in MLB this season. It's just the second immaculate inning in White Sox history. No White Sox pitcher has achieved the feat in over 100 years. Hollis "Sloppy" Thurston was the last White Sox player to throw one on Aug. 22, 1923.

The White Sox were last involved in an immaculate inning on Apr. 14, 1998, when Jimmy Key of the Orioles impressively mowed down Robin Ventura, Magglio Ordonez and Ray Durham.

Before Kopech, the last immaculate inning recorded in MLB was Johan Oviedo's on May 24, 2023. He struck out Josh Smith, Robbie Grossman and Jonah Heim in nine strikes in the fourth inning of that game. Kopech's immaculate inning is the 116th in MLB history.

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