WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Astros pitcher Luis Garcia knew he had thrown the ball pretty well in the fifth inning Wednesday night. It didn’t hit him until he was sitting in the dugout, though, just how well.
“I was throwing the ball, that’s it,” he said. “Thinking in the dugout, waiting for the next inning, I thought ‘Oh my God, I think I threw a perfect inning.’ Then whoop, I did.”
After giving up five earned runs and six hits to the Nationals in his first outing of the spring five days earlier, Garcia turned the tables on Washington by throwing an immaculate inning in the Astros’ 11-8 come-from-behind win at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
An immaculate inning is when a pitcher strikes out the side on nine pitches. Garcia, battling for a spot in the rotation, whiffed Alex Avila, Carter Kieboom and Victor Robles in the fifth without throwing a ball. Alas, he walked Trea Turner to start the sixth inning.
Garcia threw four scoreless innings, striking out five batters while allowing two hits and two walks.
“He was very good tonight,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “That’s the best outing he’s had this spring. He was operating from behind because he was out for a while [in quarantine]. His changeup was sharp, his breaking ball was sharp, his fastball was electric. He threw the ball great tonight, and I’m hoping we can see a lot more of those immaculate innings. Makes it easy on a manager.”
An immaculate inning is a feat so rare that it’s only been done 102 times in baseball history in the regular season, with Will Harris — currently of the Nationals — as the most recent Astros pitcher to do it (Sept. 27, 2019). He was the first Houston pitcher to do it since Brandon Backe on April 14, 2004.
Other Astros/Colt .45’s who have done it in the regular season are Shane Reynolds (July 15, 1999), Randy Johnson (Sept. 2, 1998), Mike Magnante (Aug. 22, 1987), Pete Harnisch (Sept. 6, 1991) and Bob Bruce (April 14, 1964).
Garcia, the Astros’ No. 6-ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline, was one of 10 Astros pitchers who made their Major League debut last year. He posted a 2.92 ERA in five regular-season games and started a game in the playoffs.