Martin Maldonado, their 35-year-old veteran catcher, was in the middle of it all.
Maldonado had a two-run double in Houston’s six-run first on manager Dusty Baker’s 73rd birthday, later homered and was behind the plate for all the strikeouts — 14 in all — as the AL West leaders wrapped up their seventh consecutive series victory against the Texas Rangers with a 9-2 win Wednesday.
“To be part of that, anytime you make history … I’m glad I was catching in that situation,” Maldonado said, adding he didn’t remember ever being part of an immaculate inning, much less two of them.
Added Baker: “We hadn’t had a first inning inning like that in a long time. A couple of records, the same guys we struck them out back-to-back-to-back with nine pitches. … So it was a good day for us.”
Garcia (4-5) fanned nine without a walk over six innings while limiting Texas to two runs and four hits. He had a span of five consecutive strikeouts that began with his immaculate second inning — only nine pitches to strike out Nathaniel Lowe, Ezequiel Duran and Brad Miller.
Those were the first three batters Maton faced after replacing Garcia to start the seventh. And Maton also recorded a nine-pitch, three-strikeout inning.
“We obviously knew they were cruising pretty good,” Miller said. “I wish I would have taken some better swings, and wish they didn’t get it.”
There have now been 106 recorded immaculate innings in major league history, and Wednesday marked the first time there have been two on the same day. And the Astros managed to twirl them both, moving them into a tie for most by one franchise with the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers (nine each).
When Maton finished off his nine-strike inning throwing only fastballs, neither Garcia or Maldonado initially realized there had been another immaculate inning. The catcher had tossed the ball to third baseman Alex Bregman when he heard people yelling for the ball.
“I was talking to the guys (in the dugout) and then the guys erupted, and I said what happened,” Garcia said.
Both pitchers had baseballs from their immaculate innings, already with authentication stickers, in their lockers after the game.
Information from ESPN Stats & The Associated Press was used in this report.