Texas Rangers star pitcher Yu Darvish came within inches of joining one of the most elite and exclusive clubs in all of sports, but in the bottom of the ninth inning, it literally just barely escaped his grasp.
Darvish took a perfect game into the ninth inning against the Houston Astros on Tuesday night, but his shot at becoming the 24th pitcher in history to put 27 up and 27 down was spoiled when Marwin Gonzalez grounded a single right between Darvish’s legs. Though he was just inches from being in position to make the play, the ball was stuck solidly, giving Darvish little chance to field it as it whizzed beneath him.
“That was impossible to catch,” Darvish said, according to ESPN.com.
Although his bid at perfection was tragically ruined, he handled the aftermath graciously and was proud of his and the team’s performance in the 7-0 Rangers win.
“I went that far,” he said. “I’m really satisfied.”
Darvish was pulled after the base-hit, but as he walked off the mound to a standing ovation from the home crowd, Darvish was able to put the game into perspective.
“I can now go back to the dugout,” Darvish said. “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.”
Darvish ended the night with 14 strikeouts and used just 111 pitches to plow through one of the weakest hitting lineups in baseball.
“When I tell you we threw everything, we threw everything,” said Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who caught Phil 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 would have become the fastest to throw a perfect game during any regular season as the Rangers were playing in just their second game of the year with Darvish making his first start of 2013. Of course with Darvish’s youth and talent – he went 16-9 during his rookie season in 2012 – he may get another chance at perfection one day.
The Rangers will look to take the first series of the season against Houston in the rubber match later today.