Darvish loses perfecto, no-no in 9th

Yu Darvish reacts as he watches Marwin Gonzalez's single go through the infield.
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Yu Darvish saw the ball skip between his shins, dashing his chance at perfection. Immediately, several Texas Rangers came to the mound to console him.

''I think my teammates were more disappointed than I was,'' he said through a translator.

Darvish was one out from a perfect game when Marwin Gonzalez grounded a clean single through the pitcher's legs, and Texas beat the Houston Astros 7-0 on Tuesday night.

The celebrated right-hander from Japan struck out a career-high 14 and was in complete control before Gonzalez smacked the first pitch up the middle. Darvish was unable to get his glove down in time and the ball skittered into center field well beyond a desperate dive by shortstop Elvis Andrus.

At that moment, one thought went through Darvish's mind.

''I can now go back to the dugout,'' he deadpanned. ''Even if I got the complete game today, it's not going to translate to three or five wins. It's a win. A win's a win.''

Almost perfect


Eleven pitchers have lost a perfect game on the 27th batter, three on questionable calls. Two others took a perfecto into extra innings, only to lose it.

July 4, 1908, Hooks Wiltse, New York Giants: Hit batsman (Phillies pitcher George McQuillan) on a 2–2 count in a scoreless game — the only time a 0–0 perfect game has been broken up by the 27th batter. Umpire Cy Rigler later admitted that he should have called the previous pitch strike three. Wiltse won 1–0 in 10 innings — the longest complete game no-hitter, since matched twice.

Aug. 5, 1932, Tommy Bridges, Detroit Tigers: Pinch-hit single to the Washington Senators' Dave Harris.

June 27, 1958, Billy Pierce, Chicago White Sox: A double, which landed just inches in fair territory, on his first pitch to Senators pinch hitter Ed Fitz Gerald.

May 26, 1959, Harvey Haddix, Pittsburgh Pirates (37th batter): Perfect through 12. There was a throwing error in 13th, breaking up the perfect game. Following a sacrifice bunt and an intentional walk to Milwaukee Braves' Hank Aaron, Joe Adcock got the game-winning hit and Haddix took the loss.

Sept. 2, 1972, Milt Pappas, Chicago Cubs: Walked San Diego Padres pinch-hitter Larry Stahl on a borderline 3–2 pitch and finished with a no-hitter. Plate umpire, Bruce Froemming, went on to work a record 11 no-hitters. Pappas said years later that he continued to bear ill will toward Froemming.

April 15, 1983, Milt Wilcox, Tigers: Pinch-hit single to the White Sox' Jerry Hairston.

May 2, 1988, Ron Robinson, Cincinnati Reds: Single to Expos' Wallace Johnson, followed by a two-run homer to Tim Raines before being removed from the game. Robinson won 3-2.

Aug. 4, 1989, Dave Stieb, Toronto Blue Jays: Double to the Yankees' Roberto Kelly, followed by an RBI single by Steve Sax. Stieb finished with a 2–1 victory.

April 20, 1990, Brian Holman, Seattle Mariners: Home run to Ken Phelps of the Oakland Athletics.

June 3, 1995, Pedro Martinez, Montreal Expos (28th batter): Double to leadoff batter in the 10th. He then exited the game.

Sept. 2, 2001, Mike Mussina, Yankees: Two-strike single to Boston Red Sox pinch-hitter Carl Everett.

June 2, 2010, Armando Galarraga, Tigers: Infield single to Jason Donald of the Cleveland Indians. First-base umpire Jim Joyce acknowledged that he had made a bad call on the close play at first. A perfect game would have been the third in 24 days.

April 2, 2013, Yu Darvish, Rangers: Infield single to Marwin Gonzalez of the Houston Astros that went through Darvish's legs. Darvish was pulled from the game from the game after giving up the single.


Darvish smiled and put up his hands — almost like, ''Oh well, it happens.'' Texas' infielders quickly came to the mound, and manager Ron Washington joined them.

''I didn't want to be the last out,'' Gonzalez said. ''I was trying to look for a good pitch to hit and put it in play. That's all I was thinking.''

Washington patted Darvish on the chest and then signaled for a reliever. A crowd of 22,673 that included plenty of Rangers fans cheered Darvish as he walked off after 111 pitches. He stopped and tipped his cap before getting high-fives from teammates in the dugout.

He sat on the bench to watch the rest of the game, then joined the handshake line after the final out.

And if Darvish was upset about coming oh so close, he didn't show it.

''I went that far,'' he said. ''I'm really satisfied.''

Working from the stretch throughout — even though he never needed to — Darvish became the first pitcher to lose a perfect game with two outs in the ninth inning since Armando Galarraga on June 2, 2010. Of course, the Detroit pitcher was denied only because of an infamous missed call at first base by umpire Jim Joyce, who later admitted he blew the play.

On the second full day of the major league season, Darvish nearly picked up right where baseball left off last year, when there were a record three perfect games, thrown by Philip Humber, Matt Cain and Felix Hernandez.

Darvish's 14 strikeouts matched a Minute Maid Park record and were the most by a Rangers pitcher since Hall of Famer and current team CEO Nolan Ryan had 14 in July 1991 against the Angels.

Darvish arrived in the majors last year with much fanfare, having already been a five-time All-Star and two-time MVP in Japan. The Rangers paid more than $107 million to get him for five seasons.

The 6-foot-5 righty quickly settled in with Texas, becoming an All-Star last year on the way to going 16-9 with 221 strikeouts. He also once flirted with perfection, retiring the first 17 batters at Kansas City on Sept. 3.

''I think I got lucky today. I felt I pitched better against the Royals last year,'' Darvish said. ''I had better command in that outing.''

If he had been able to finish the job Tuesday, it would have been the earliest perfecto in history.

Darvish didn't really need a dazzling play from his defense as he shut down the Astros and chased the 24th perfect game in big league history — including the one Don Larsen tossed in the 1956 World Series, and two in 1880.

It was almost the second time in 10 months the overmatched Astros failed to put a runner on base. Cain's perfect game for the World Series champion San Francisco Giants came against Houston on June 13 last year.

Many expect the Astros to be the worst team in the majors this year, after two straight 100-loss seasons and a major league-low payroll under $22 million. But they cruised to an 8-2 win over Texas in the major league opener and their American League debut Sunday night.

The 26-year-old Darvish carried over a strong showing in spring training this year into near perfection in his first regular-season start. The Astros looked totally lost against him, often taking wild swings at breaking balls that bounced.

With the crowd on its feet and a mixture of cheers and ''Yuuus'' filling Minute Maid Park, Chris Carter took Darvish to a full count before striking out on the ninth pitch of the at-bat for the first out of the eighth inning.

Rick Ankiel followed by striking out and Justin Maxwell hit an easy grounder to second baseman Ian Kinsler.

Darvish looked toward the sky for a couple of seconds before retreating to the dugout.

He began the ninth by getting two easy groundouts before Gonzalez ruined his bid for perfection with a sharp grounder.

''That was impossible to catch,'' Darvish said.

The 24-year-old Gonzalez made his big league debut last year, hitting .234 in 80 games for Houston.

Darvish, who played seven professional seasons in Japan before joining the Rangers, set rookie franchise records for wins (16) and strikeouts (221) last season. He finished third in AL Rookie of the Year voting behind winner Mike Trout and Oakland outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

The win gives Darvish five straight regular-season victories dating to last season. He took the loss in the Rangers' 5-1 defeat to Baltimore in the AL Wild-Card game.

Using his dizzying array of pitches, including a fastball that topped out at 97 mph, a slider, and 95 mph cutters, Darvish bedeviled the mostly inexperienced Houston hitters.

''When I tell you we threw everything, we threw everything,'' said Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who caught Humber's perfect game for the White Sox last season. ''We threw the kitchen sink tonight, but Yu has the ability to do that and he's special.''

Darvish (1-0) sailed through the first four innings, striking out nine, including the side in the second and fourth.

Carter hit a long fly that looked as though it could be gone before David Murphy caught it just in front of the left-center wall for the first out of the fifth. First baseman Mitch Moreland made a nice catch on a liner by Ankiel for the second out.

Michael Kirkman relieved Darvish after Gonzalez's hit. Jose Altuve followed with a single before Kirkman fanned pinch-hitter J.D. Martinez to end it.


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Darvish has never thrown a complete game in the majors.

Lucas Harrell (0-1), who was Houston's most successful starter a year ago with 11 wins, allowed six hits and one run with four strikeouts in six innings.

Lance Berkman had a run-scoring single in the third against his former team. He finished with three hits and two RBI.

Kinsler hit a two-run homer off Rhiner Cruz in the seventh to make it 3-0. Texas added two runs in the eighth and two in the ninth.


The last no-hitter by a Rangers pitcher was Kenny Rogers' perfect game against the Angels on July 28, 1994. ... Berkman extended his hitting streak at Minute Maid Park to 14 games dating to July 26, 2010. That includes his last three home games with the Astros and 11 appearances as an opposing player with St. Louis and Texas. ... These teams wrap up the series Wednesday when Humber makes his Astros debut against Texas RHP Alexi Ogando.

Tagged: Angels, Rangers, Astros, Giants, Ian Kinsler, Philip Humber

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