Johnny Damon got three hits yesterday in one inning as the Red Sox lambasted the Marlins for 14 runs in the first innings and 25 in total. Two Marlins pitchers (Carl Pavano and Miguel Tejera) both left without recording an out and allowed a combined 11 runs. Damon's three-hit (single, double, triple) first inning was only the second time ever that a major-leaguer accomplished the feat.
My recent spate of odds making as regards hitting for the cycle has me in a probability state of mind. I wondered what the odds were in getting three hits in a row. Well, using last year's AL stats for an average batter, it's only about 1 in one hundred (1.3% based on hits-per-plate appearance cubed).
However, not only did Damon get three straight hits: he did it in one inning. The odds for such a feat are a little more complicated. That Damon led off the inning makes it a bit easier. Also, the fact that the Marlins did not record an error prior to his third hit does, too (Errors per plate appearance are dicey at best since an error could be on a throw after a hit or on a play that extends an at-bat).
So what we have is Johnny Damon leading off with a hit, eight teammates who record no more than two outs, Johnny Damon getting his second hit, eight teammates who again record no more than two total outs, and then Damon who gets his third hit.
The odds in that are 0.000082% or 1,214,606.455 to 1. Given that there have been 179,277 games (through 2002) and let's say that the average game has nine full innings (i.e., ignore extra innings, unplayed bottom of the ninth, etc.), that means that there have been 32,269,86 such opportunities. Using the historical percentage for AL (0.000006%), the expected number of batters who collect three hits in an inning is 1.944105562. So they were due I guess.