Kenley Jansen, closer for the Los Angeles Dodgers, had a big night on Thursday. And you might be wondering how big a night a closer can have, since he’s usually in the game for just one inning. But Kenley Jansen is special. In just over an inning’s worth of work, he notched his second hit ever, and pitched an immaculate inning.
It started in the top of the eighth inning of the Dodgers’ game against the Miami Marlins, when Jansen was brought in for a four-out save. He finished out the eighth with a strikeout, but he was fourth in line to bat in the bottom of the eighth inning. Closers rarely have the opportunity to hit for themselves, since their role is to literally end the game. But Kenley and his magic four-out save skills got him an at-bat, and he made the most of it.
Jansen came to the plate after Marlins reliever Odrisamer Despaigne issued two one-out walks, and attempted a bunt on Despaigne’s first offering. But on the second pitch, he was swinging away, and he made contact. The ball was hit toward first baseman Justin Bour, but it glanced off his glove and no one in the Marlins infield could recover in time. Jansen had an infield hit, just his second hit ever (his first was way back in 2010), and manager Dave Roberts was so thrilled that he gave Jansen a round of applause from the dugout.
Jansen didn’t end up scoring, though he was on the bases, taking leads and stopping and starting, for awhile. But if he was gassed, he didn’t show it. He walked out on the mound in the ninth and pitched an absolutely immaculate inning. That’s not hyperbole: what Jansen did is called an immaculate inning. He faced three batters, threw nine pitches (three to each batter) and got three strikeouts.
Kenley Jansen, Immaculate Inning. pic.twitter.com/6PgbJSCXyq
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 19, 2017
All three Marlins batters — Derek Dietrich, J.T. Riddle and Ichiro Suzuki — barely had a chance as Jansen fanned them in quick succession. Dietrich and Riddle got their strikeouts via called strike threes, and Ichiro got his on a swinging strike.
After the game Jansen had no idea what he’d done, but was excited when he did.
Jansen was told tonight what an immaculate inning was & the list he joined. He had no idea, but said it was awesome when he found out.
— Dodger Insider (@DodgerInsider) May 19, 2017
Immaculate innings are usually pretty rare, but including Jansen’s, there have been three in the past eight days. The other two belong to Max Scherzer, who threw his on May 14, and Craig Kimbrel, who threw his on May 11.
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