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What is a perfect inning in baseball? Michael Kopech pulls off rare feat against Twins

Everyone wants to talk about a perfect game or a no-hitter. The forgotten sibling of those two baseball achievements is the perfect inning, a less talked about but still prestigious pitching feat that occasionally appears in modern baseball.

There’s a century of perfect games that tell the story of MLB, featuring some of the league’s biggest names. Most pitchers won’t have one to their name, which makes throwing one all the more prestigious.

Who made the last perfect shot and what did it take to achieve it? Read more below.

MORE: When was the last perfect game in MLB?

What does it mean to hit a perfect pitch in baseball?

Nine innings, nine strikes, and three strikeouts. That’s what makes a perfect inning. Foul balls count toward a perfect inning, but outs do not.

Michael Kopech of the Chicago White Sox became the last MLB player to throw a perfect inning on July 10 against the Minnesota Twins. He became the first pitcher in more than a century to do so for the franchise since Sloppy Thurston did it in August 1923.

There were 16 perfect innings in the 2020s, and they’re becoming increasingly common. There were 37 perfect innings in the 2010s, more than double any other decade.

How rare is a perfect shot?

There have been 115 perfect innings in MLB history, and only seven pitchers have thrown more than one. Basically, it’s happened more times than a perfect game but far fewer times than a no-hitter, so it’s a relatively rare feat all things considered.

The most perfect shots in a game

No pitcher has ever thrown more than one perfect inning in the same game. In 1998, the Marlins’ Jesus Sanchez came close, when he struck out three Braves in 10 innings in the second inning before pitching a perfect inning in the third.

Two pitchers have pitched a perfect inning in the same game the Astros played against the Rangers. Luis Garcia and Phil Maton both pitched the same inning with the same trio of Rangers batters on June 15, 2022.

Who made the most perfect shots?

Only seven pitchers have thrown more than one perfect inning, and three have done it three times. Sandy Koufax, Max Scherzer and Chris Sale all have three perfect innings, while Lefty Grove, Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson and Kevin Gausman have all done it twice.

List of perfect innings in MLB

Here is every perfect inning in MLB history to date:

Carafe History Set
John Clarkson June 4, 1889 Boston Bean Eaters
Rube Waddell July 1, 1902 Philadelphia Athletics
Pat Ragan October 5, 1914 Brooklyn Dodgers
Joe Oeschger September 8, 1921 Boston Braves
Messy Thurston August 22, 1923 Chicago White Sox
Confused Vance September 14, 1924 Brooklyn Robins
Leftist Grove August 23, 1928 Philadelphia Athletics
Leftist Grove September 27, 1928 Philadelphia Athletics
Billy Hoeft September 7, 1953 Detroit Tigers
Robin Roberts April 17, 1956 Philadelphia Phillies
Jim Bunning August 2, 1959 Detroit Tigers
Sandy Koufax June 30, 1962 Los Angeles Dodgers
Sandy Koufax April 19, 1963 Los Angeles Dodgers
Tony the Cloner June 15, 1963 Milwaukee Braves
Sandy Koufax April 18, 1964 Los Angeles Dodgers
Bob Bruce April 19, 1964 Houston Colt .45s
Al Downing August 11, 1967 New York Yankees
Nolan Ryan April 19, 1968 New York Mets
Bob Gibson May 12, 1969 St. Louis Cardinals
Bill Wilson July 6, 1971 Philadelphia Phillies
John Strohmayer July 10, 1971 Montreal Exhibitions
Milt Pappas September 24, 1971 Chicago Cubs
Nolan Ryan July 9, 1972 California Angels
Bruce Sutter September 8, 1977 Chicago Cubs
Pedro Borbon June 23, 1979 Cincinnati Reds
Lynn McGlothen August 25, 1979 Chicago Cubs
Joey McLaughlin September 11, 1979 Atlanta Braves
Ron Guidry August 7, 1984 New York Yankees
Danny Jackson October 24, 1985 Kansas City Royals
Jeff Robinson September 7, 1987 Pittsburgh Pirates
Rob Dibble June 4, 1989 Cincinnati Reds
Jeff Montgomery April 29, 1990 Kansas City Royals
Andy Ashby June 15, 1991 Philadelphia Phillies
David Cone August 30, 1991 New York Mets
Pete Harnisch September 6, 1991 Houston Astros
Trevor Wilson June 7, 1992 San Francisco Giants
Mel Rojas May 11, 1994 Montreal Exhibitions
Stan Belinda August 6, 1994 Kansas City Royals
Todd Worrell August 13, 1995 Los Angeles Dodgers
Mike Magnante August 22, 1997 Houston Astros
Doug Jones September 23, 1997 Milwaukee Brewers
Jimmy Key April 14, 1998 Baltimore Orioles
Mike Mussina May 9, 1998 Baltimore Orioles
Orel Hershiser June 16, 1998 San Francisco Giants
Randy Johnson September 2, 1998 Houston Astros
Jesus Sanchez September 13, 1998 Florida Marlins
Shane Reynolds July 15, 1999 Houston Astros
B.J. Ryan September 5, 1999 Baltimore Orioles
Randy Johnson August 23, 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks
Jason Isringhausen April 13, 2002 St. Louis Cardinals
Byung Hyun Kim May 11, 2002 Arizona Diamondbacks
Pedro Martinez May 18, 2002 Boston Red Sox
Brian Lawrence June 12, 2002 San Diego Padres
Brandon Backe April 15, 2004 Houston Astros
I sheets June 13, 2004 Milwaukee Brewers
La Troy Hawkins September 11, 2004 Chicago Cubs
Rick Helling June 20, 2006 Milwaukee Brewers
Friend Carlyle July 6, 2007 Atlanta Braves
Rich Harden June 8, 2008 Oakland Athletics
Felix Hernandez June 17, 2008 Seattle Marines
A. J. Burnett June 20, 2009 New York Yankees
Ross Ohlendorf September 5, 2009 Pittsburgh Pirates
Rafael Soriano August 23, 2010 Tampa Bay Rays
Jordan Zimmerman May 6, 2011 Washington Citizens
Juan Perez July 8, 2011 Philadelphia Phillies
Clay Buchholz August 16, 2012 Boston Red Sox
Wade Miley October 1, 2012 Arizona Diamondbacks
Ivan Nova May 29, 2013 New York Yankees
Steve Delabar July 30, 2013 Toronto Blue Jays
Brad Boxberger May 8, 2014 Tampa Bay Rays
Cole Hamels May 17, 2014 Philadelphia Phillies
Justin Masterson June 2, 2014 Cleveland Guards
Garrett Richards June 4, 2014 Los Angeles Angels
Rex Brothers June 14, 2014 Colorado Rockies
Carlos Contreras July 11, 2014 Cincinnati Reds
Brandon McCarthy September 17, 2014 New York Yankees
Mike Fiers May 7, 2015 Milwaukee Brewers
Santiago Casilla May 17, 2015 San Francisco Giants
Juan Nicasio July 4, 2016 Pittsburgh Pirates
Drew Store April 18, 2017 Cincinnati Reds
Craig Kimbrel May 11, 2017 Boston Red Sox
Max Scherzer May 14, 2017 Washington Citizens
Kenley Jansen May 18, 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers
Carlos Carrasco July 7, 2017 Cleveland Guards
Dellin Betances August 2, 2017 New York Yankees
Jose Alvarado August 4, 2017 Tampa Bay Rays
Rick Porcello August 9, 2017 Boston Red Sox
Kevin Gausman April 23, 2018 Baltimore Orioles
Max Scherzer June 5, 2018 Washington Citizens
German Marquez August 8, 2018 Colorado Rockies
Zac Ross Cup August 19, 2018 Los Angeles Dodgers
Josh Hader March 30, 2019 Milwaukee Brewers
Thomas Pannone April 14, 2019 Toronto Blue Jays
Chris Sales May 8, 2019 Boston Red Sox
Chris Sales June 5, 2019 Boston Red Sox
Stephen Strasbourg July 3, 2019 Washington Citizens
Kevin Gausman August 18, 2019 Cincinnati Reds
Chris Martin September 11, 2019 Atlanta Braves
Will it be Harris? September 27, 2019 Houston Astros
Zach Plesac September 18, 2020 Cleveland Guards
Kyle Finnegan May 5, 2021 Washington Citizens
Michael King June 4, 2021 New York Yankees
Chad Green July 4, 2021 New York Yankees
Chris Sales August 26, 2021 Boston Red Sox
Max Scherzer September 12, 2021 Los Angeles Dodgers
Nestor Cortés Jr. April 17, 2022 New York Yankees
Luis Garcia June 15, 2022 Houston Astros
Phil Maton
Reid Detmers July 31, 2022 Los Angeles Angels
Ryan Helsley September 16, 2022 St. Louis Cardinals
Hayden Wesneski September 22, 2022 Chicago Cubs
Los Santos Enyel September 27, 2022 Cleveland Guards
Colin Holderman May 4, 2023 Pittsburgh Pirates
Johan Oviedo May 24, 2023 Pittsburgh Pirates
Michael Kopech June 10, 2024 Chicago White Sox

Kevin Skiver contributed to this article