Chris Sale's return from Tommy John surgery has exceeded even the rosiest of expectations.
Even before Thursday's Boston Red Sox game against the Minnesota Twins, Sale was 2-0 with a 1.80 earned run average in his first two starts back. But the left-hander has reached yet another level following his immaculate third inning at Fenway Park.
Sale set down Nick Gordon, Andrelton Simmons and Rob Refsnyder -- the eighth, ninth and leadoff hitters in Minnesota's lineup -- for the third immaculate inning of his career, all since joining the Red Sox.
Prior to tonight, the last Boston pitcher to throw an immaculate inning was...also Sale, who did it twice in 2019. The only other pitcher in major league history to toss two immaculate innings in a season was Hall of Famer Lefty Grove, who completed the feat twice in 1928.
And here is where the air gets even more rarified for Sale: With his third immaculate inning, he joins Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax as the only pitcher to do so more than twice.
For good measure, Sale became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw an immaculate inning at home since another Hall of Famer, Pedro Martinez, in 2002.
Sale is keeping up his end of the bargain and then some in keeping Boston afloat in the chase for a wild-card spot.