On this day in 2002, Red Sox right-hander Pedro Martinez took the mound at Fenway Park for his eighth start of the season, this one coming against the 29-12 Seattle Mariners.
Entering that dreary and cold evening in Boston, Martinez owned a 4-0 record to go along with a 3.49 ERA and .616 OPS against through his first seven starts and 38 2/3 innings pitched of the ’02 campaign.
As indicated by their record, the Mariners were a pretty decent club up to this point in the 2002 season. They had just taken two out of three from Boston in Seattle the previous weekend and took the opener of the three-game set at Fenway the day before Pedro took the hill.
That said, Martinez dominated the M’s in the Sox’ lone win in the Emerald city, and he followed suit with another impressive outing in his third consecutive start against an American League West foe on that faithful Saturday.
What was even more splendid about this performance from Martinez was how he led it off: With an immaculate inning.
That’s right, by getting Ichiro Suzuki, Mark McLemore, and Ruben Sierra to all fan on three pitches each, the Dominican national became the 11th pitcher in American League history to record an immaculate frame. In other words, three batters faced, nine pitches thrown, and three punchouts. Not too shabby.
That set the tone for Martinez to best the Mariners once more, as he went on to surrender just one run over eight solid innings while scattering six hits and one HBP to go along with nine strikeouts on the night.
Improving to 6-0 on the year thanks to this start, Martinez went on to finish second in American League Cy Young voting and 20th in AL MVP voting in 2002.
Since Martinez accomplished the feat on this day 18 years ago, Clay Buccholz, Craig Kimbrel, Rick Porcello, and Chris Sale have been the only Red Sox pitchers to also toss an immaculate inning, with Sale doing it on two separate occasions last season.