ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Houston starter Luis Garcia and reliever Phil Maton each threw an immaculate inning — nine pitches, three strikeouts — after a big opening offensive outburst for the Astros.
Martín 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.
“We hadn’t had a first inning inning like that in a long time,” Baker said. “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.”
Astros and Rangers officials said it was the first time in MLB history to have two nine-pitch, three-strikeout innings in the same game — either both by one team, or each team recording…