ARLINGTON, Texas — Boston’s David Ortiz took the official scorer off the hook Friday night in what would have been one of the most debated no-hitters in major-league history.
Ortiz’s ninth-inning single with two outs ended Texas ace Yu Darvish‘s bid for a no-hitter and made a controversial seventh-inning error by Rangers right fielder Alex Rios a non-factor in the near no-no. It didn’t take away from a brilliant performance by the right-handed pitcher in an 8-0 blanking of the Red Sox.
The hit by Ortiz to right field in the teeth of the Texas shift marked the second consecutive year Darvish lost a no-hitter with two outs in the ninth inning.
It was fitting that it was Ortiz who recorded Boston’s first hit as he was part of the controversy in the seventh. It was his two-out blooper to right that fell between Rios and second baseman Rougned Odor without either touching the ball.
It took official scorer Steve Weller a couple of minutes to make the error call. Darvish then walked Mike Napoli before getting Grady Sizemore to fly out to right to keep the no-hit bid intact.
Darvish, who struck out 12 before being lifted after allowing the Ortiz single, took some of the blame for the error because he fell behind in the count to Ortiz 3-1. But Darvish had no problem with the final result.
"This is my second time I experienced this, but if I keep pitching like this someday I’ll get it," Darvish said. "I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and I’ll probably have the world record of ‘almost a no-hitter.’
"I don’t think it was the best game that I threw, but it was against Boston and I think I pitched well against them."
Darvish was perfect through six innings and that carried over to start the seventh as he induced a fly ball from Dustin Pedroia and a grounder from Shane Victorino.
That’s when Ortiz looped a lazy fly ball that no one caught. Rios took full responsibility for the play.
"We had the shift on and I thought that he (Odor) was a little closer to the ball than I was," Rios said. "At the end, it’s my responsibility to call him off and it’s a shame that I couldn’t help him (Darvish) achieve a great pitching performance tonight.
"I should have taken control of that ball. It can be called an error, yeah. We were camped under the ball, so it can be called an error."
Odor said he couldn’t hear Rios because of the crowd noise at Globe Life Park. Texas manager Ron Washington thought the play should have been made too.
"My take on it is it should have been caught," said Washington, who declined to say who he thought should have caught the ball.
Weller cited Rule 10:12(a)(1) in the rule book for his decision on the error call. He believed Rios called off Odor on the play. He checked with the Elias Sports Bureau who agreed with his decision.
"Again, this is a judgment call," Weller told a pool reporter. "In my judgment, when the ball goes up in the air, I felt like the second baseman or the right fielder under normal effort could’ve clearly caught the ball. I don’t think there’s a lot of argument about that. Under the rule, 10.12(a)(1), it clearly states that a fly ball that lands — that’s allowed to hit the ground, that in the judgment of the official scorer under normal effort could be caught — you’re to award an error on the play."
Ortiz said he had no problem with the play being ruled an error, but after he broke up the no-hitter with a clean hit, he believes the call in the seventh should be changed too.
"OK, I know I hit a ball that was supposed to be caught," Ortiz said. "You know, a guy throwing a no-hitter, we all understand, but it comes down to the rules of the game. … That’s a hit. That’s the rule that we all know and that’s the rule that the game has known for more than 100 years."
Darvish worked around an eighth-inning leadoff walk to keep the no-hitter going, finishing the inning with his 11th strikeout.
For the 25th and 26th outs, Darvish retired Pedroia on a ground out to third and Victorino on Boston’s 12th K of the night.
After Ortiz’s single, Darvish was replaced by Alexi Ogando, who completed Texas’ majors-best eighth shutout. That’s not up for debate regardless of how the seventh inning played out.
Darvish was philosophical about the night because he felt like he had given up a hit to Ortiz in the seventh.
"It was a 3-1 count and I had to throw a fastball in that situation," Darvish said. "As soon as he hit it I thought it was going to be a hit. Obviously, I was a little bit disappointed but I was already ready to give up a hit so it didn’t matter."