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Kenley Jansen Had Himself A Historic Night—And So Did Ichiro Somehow

On Thursday night, Kenley Jansen tossed an immaculate inning—three strikeouts on nine pitches. But that's not even the interesting part.

On Thursday night, Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen came into the game with two outs in the top of the eighth inning. Nothing weird about that, as Jansen has been known to complete the occasional four-out save. He struck out J.T. Realmuto to end the Marlins threat and preserve a 5-2 lead for the Dodgers, which wasn't terribly out of the ordinary, either.

Then his night got interesting. In the bottom of the eighth, Jansen was treated to a rare plate appearance—just the sixth of his career. He singled in the middle of a Dodger rally, for his first hit since 2010 and just the second his big league career. (Jansen, who began his career as a catcher, is now 2-for-5 with a walk in six career plate appearances.)


By the time Jansen came back out to the mound to face the bottom of the Marlins order in the ninth, the score was 7-2. The game basically out of reach. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts could have brought in Sergio Romo or virtually anyone else to finish things out, but he decided to stick with Jansen.

Jansen responded by striking out Derek Dietrich on three pitches. And then striking out J.T. Riddle on three pitches. And then striking out pinch hitter Ichiro Suzuki—on three pitches. And with that, Jansen had himself an immaculate inning. Three batters. Three pitches each. Three strikeouts.

Jansen became the 80th pitcher in Major League Baseball history to achieve the feat, and the fourth this season. But that isn't even the weird part. Jansen is one of baseball's most dominant relief pitchers. He's awesome, and if Drew Storen can do this, so can he.

The weird part—unearthed to the best of my knowledge, by a Redditor named rbhindepmo—is that this is actually the second time Ichiro has been part of an immaculate inning. And the first time came exactly 15 years to the day before Jansen did it.

On May 18, 2002, Pedro Martinez struck out the side on nine pitches to open a game against Ichiro and the Seattle Mariners. Ichiro was the first batter Martinez faced in that particular immaculate inning—and the first batter in the game. Fifteen years later, he was the last batter Jansen faced in an immaculate inning—and the final batter in the game.

Baseball is weird and mystical. Ichiro, even on the rare occasion when he is striking out, is especially weird and mystical.