Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Yu Darvish loses perfect game with two outs in the ninth

Texas pitcher Yu Darvish turned in one of the more dominant performances you'll ever see Tuesday night against the woeful Houston Astros, but he fell one out short of baseball immortality.

Darvish retired the first 26 batters he faced -- 14 of them by strikeout -- but he failed to complete his bid for a perfect game when some guy named Marwin Gonzalez swung at the first pitch and bounced a base hit back up the middle with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning.

I had to look Gonzalez up because I had never heard of him before. He's a 24-year-old infielder with a lifetime batting average of .236 in 208 major league at-bats. Now, he's the answer to a trivia question. Darvish settled for a 7-0 victory and joined a list of 10 other pitchers to lose a bid for a perfect game with two outs in the ninth inning.

Three of those previous 10 involved Chicago teams:

1. June 27, 1958
White Sox left-hander Billy Pierce retired the first 26 Washington Senators he saw, but backup catcher Ed Fitz Gerald came off the bench to deliver a double and break up Pierce's bid for history. Moments later, Pierce struck out center fielder Albie Pearson to complete the shutout in a 3-0 Chicago victory.

2. September 2, 1972
There are Cubs fans out there who still hate umpire Bruce Froemming, whose controversial call denied Milt Pappas a perfect game. Pappas lost his perfecto with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and a full count when Froemming called ball four on a borderline pitch to San Diego pinch-hitter Larry Stahl. Pappas to this day remains furious about the call, but he did complete a no-hitter on this day. After the walk, he induced Garry Jestadt to pop out to end the game.

3. April 15, 1983
The 1983 White Sox were a 99-win team, but on this April day they were baffled by Milt Wilcox. The Detroit right-hander retired the first 26 men he faced before pinch-hitter Jerry Hairston (much like Marwin Gonzalez) picked on the first pitch he saw and singled up the middle. Wilcox settled for a one-hitter, getting center fielder Rudy Law to ground out on the next pitch to conclude a 6-0 Detroit victory.

Here are the other pitcher to lose a perfect game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth: 
Hooks Wiltse, Giants, July 4, 1908
Tommy Bridges, Tigers, August 5, 1932
Ron Robinson, Reds, May 2, 1988
Dave Stieb, Blue Jays, August 4, 1989
Brian Holman, Mariners, April 20, 1990
Mike Mussina, Yankees, September 2, 2001
Armando Galarraga, Tigers, June 2, 2010

Among that group, Galarraga could probably relate best to Pappas. That, of course, was the famous blown call at first base by umpire Jim Joyce. Cleveland's Jason Donald was awarded an infield single on the play, spoiling both the perfect game and the no-hitter. Galarraga retired the next hitter, Trevor Crowe. Much like Pappas, he would probably say he actually retired 28 hitters in a row on that day.


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