Betances throws immaculate inning vs. Tigers

Yankees righty retires Adduci, Upton, Cabrera on 9 pitches in 8th

Betances throws immaculate inning vs. Tigers

It was worth the wait. After a three-hour, 11-minute rain delay at Yankee Stadium, Dellin Betances entered Wednesday's 2-0 loss in the eighth inning at 8:01 p.m. ET and proceeded to throw an immaculate inning against the Tigers.

That's three strikeouts on nine pitches -- as perfect as a pitcher can be in a single frame.

Betances got Jim Adduci to wave at an 86.3 mph slider to notch his first strikeout, then froze Justin Upton on a fastball that clocked in at 98.3 mph. That left the Yankees' big right-hander facing Miguel Cabrera, the two-time American League MVP who's perennially one of the most dangerous hitters in the game.

It didn't matter. Betances started Miggy with an 81.8 mph knuckle-curve for a called strike one, then threw a 98.5 mph four-seamer by him for strike two. On 0-2, he went to his slider away, and Miggy could only wave at the 86.5 mph offering.

"Made our job easy," said teammate Aaron Judge, after watching Betances deal. "It was exciting."

Betances is the sixth pitcher to throw an immaculate inning in the Major Leagues this season, joining Drew Storen, Craig Kimbrel, Max Scherzer, Kenley Jansen and Carlos Carrasco, who also did it against the Tigers, on July 7.

Betances' immaculate inning was the 87th in Major League history. Six of those 87 have been spun by Yankees pitchers. The last to do it in pinstripes was Brandon McCarthy, against the Rays, on Sept. 17, 2014.

The other four Yankees to strike out the side on nine pitches: Ivan Nova against the Mets on May 29, 2013, A.J. Burnett against the Marlins on June 20, 2009, Ron Guidry against the White Sox on Aug. 7, 1984, and Al Downing against the Indians on Aug. 11, 1967.

Betances showed how dangerous he can be when he commands the strike zone. Losing control of the zone has been at the heart of the inconsistencies that have plagued him at times. But facing the middle of the Tigers' order, he attacked and got ahead. Once you fall behind Betances, with his elite stuff, you're in trouble.

His Wiffle-ball slider becomes exceedingly difficult to lay off, as Adduci and Cabrera found when they went fishing outside on 0-2 counts. Or he can pump his fastball in in the upper 90s, as he did to Upton, who, without expecting it, had to watch it go by.

"Dellin did an outstanding job," manager Joe Girardi said. "I've seen Dellin do [things like that] before, but it's good to see him throwing the ball so well."

In such an outing, Betances is nearly untouchable. His performance Wednesday, which also included a second scoreless inning in the ninth with one more K, increased his strikeouts per nine innings to 16.20 this season, which ranks second in the Majors behind only Kimbrel. Betances lowered his ERA to 2.48.

"Every time you face him," said the Tigers' Nicholas Castellanos, Betances' final strikeout victim of the ninth, "it's kind of like, grind it out."

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.