Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sac Fly: 4 in One Inning

There have been four times in baseball history when a team recorded three sacrifice flies in the same inning. For this to happen an error has to be committed on a fly ball/line drive that in the official scorer’s opinion would have scored the baserunner. Three of these rare occurrences benefitted the Yankees. In 2000 the Bronx Bombers pulled off this feat twice in three weeks.

7.01.1962 White Sox vs Indians 5th Inning
7.29.2000 Yankees vs Tigers 4th Inning
8.19.2000 Yankees vs Angels 3rd Inning
6.24.2005 Yankees vs Mets 2nd Inning

In the August game a most interesting sequence of events took place to allow the three sac flies.
1. Glenallen Hill walked.
2. Tino Martinez doubled to left, advancing Hill to third.
3. Jorge Posada reached second on an error by leftfielder Ron Gant. The former Brave dropped the line drive, allowing Hill to score and Martinez to advance to third. The scorer ruled that Hill would’ve scored even if Gant had caught the ball.
4. Scott Brosius hit a sac fly to left, scoring Martinez.
5. With one out, Bellinger fly out to deep left. Gant thought there were two out and leaned against the wall – allowing the alert Posada (nicknamed “Cinder Block Feet”) to score from second on what was ruled the third sacrifice fly of the inning.

The 2008 Sporting News Record Book reports the record for sacrifice hits in one inning is four, in the 8th inning of a 5.21.1913 game between Pittsburgh and Brooklyn.

Contrastingly, a pitcher has struck out four batters in one inning 73 times. The feat has been accomplished the past seven straight years, often multiple times. Braves pitchers Craig Kimbrel, Mark Wohlers, Paul Assenmacher, and Phil Niekro have accomplished the feat. Only four Hall of Famers have struck out four batters in one inning: Niekro, Bob Gibson, Don Drysdale, and Walter Johnson. Knuckleballers Tim Wakefield and Charlie Hough are on the list. Chuck Finley struck out four batters in one inning three separate times, including twice in one season. Orval Overall is the only pitcher to achieve the feat in the World Series. No account of four strikeouts in one inning between 1916 and 1956 is on record.

As a teenager my son Will once struck out four batters in one inning. Will is the only player in baseball history to strike out four batters in one inning and turn two unassisted triple plays.

Five strikeouts in one inning has only happened once (in spring training) and three times in the minors. In 2012 Minnesota high school pitcher Eric Veglahn struck out five batters in one inning. Veglahn went on to pitch college baseball at St. Thomas and once pitched against Emory (he lost).

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