Texas Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish came painfully close to perfection on Tuesday, losing a perfect game bid with two outs in the ninth inning.
The 26-year-old Japanese import dominated the first 26 batters that he faced, before allowing a hard single to Houston Astros infielder Marwin Gonzalez. The light-hitting shortstop drove a 90 mph fastball right through Darvish’s legs, putting a slight blemish on an otherwise spotless performance.
"I think my teammates are more disappointed than I am," Darvish said during a post-game interview.
While Darvish may have fallen short of history, his performance against the Astros was nothing short of spectacular. The right hander struck out 14 batters in his eight-plus innings of work, and needed just 111 pitches to do so. The outing is a prime example of why the Rangers were willing to shell out $111 million to acquire Darvish’s services before the 2012 season.
The Houston Astros lineup weren’t the only ones to be baffled by Darvish’s repertoire of pitches. During a postgame interview, Rangers teammate Nelson Cruz said that watching Darvish was “like a video game,” Yahoo Sports reports.
Darvish pitched the entire game from the stretch, something that he has been doing since May. Behind Darvish, the Rangers were able to avenge their opening day loss to the Astros, scoring a decisive 7-0 victory.
By allowing the last-minute single to Gonzalez, Darvish became just the 11th pitcher in Major League Baseball history to lose a perfect game with two outs in the ninth inning. In 2010, Armando Galarraga came within an out of perfect game while pitching for the Detroit Tigers, but was denied the honor due to a blown call by umpire Jim Joyce. While Darvish’s bid was broken up by a clean single, the result is no less disappointing.
"I told him I loved him. He pitched a helluva game for us tonight," Rangers manager, Ron Washington, told reporters.
The 2012 MLB season produced three perfect games, thrown by Philip Humber, Matt Cain and Felix Hernandez. Ironically, Humber, now a member of the Astros, was in the opposing dugout for Darvish’s gem.
Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who was behind the plate for both Humber’s and Darvish’s masterpieces, expressed his disappointment in Tuesday’s result.
"I don't think I've ever been so disappointed with a shutout in my life. It just wasn't meant to be,” Pierzynski said. According to Yahoo Sports, Pierzynski noted that he made eye contact with Humber during the game.