I was 2 years old when Kenny Rogers hurled his perfect game in Arlington back in 1994. I’ve watched bits and pieces of perfect games for the last decade, always tuning into the game when ESPN flashes the update that history is about to be made.
I’ve never had the pleasure of watching a live perfect game for all 27 outs, until Yu Darvish took the mound in Houston last night.
It was obvious he had his “ace” repertoire working through two innings, striking out five of the first six batters faced.
The thought of him completing one of the rarest feats in baseball started creeping into the picture when he got through the fifth inning, where he received some of the luck that every pitcher who has ever thrown a perfect game received. Left fielder Chris Carter launched a fast ball to the warning track in left field, looking as if he had ended the magic when the ball came off the bat, but it fell just a few feet short when David Murphy reached up and recorded the first out of the inning.
Rick Ankiel stepped into the box after Carter’s fly out, and lined a fastball to right field, right at Mitch Moreland. The second out of the fifth inning was in the books, and it appeared as though Darvish had permission from the baseball gods to go ahead and finish what he’d started.
He breezed through the lineup all the way through the eighth, and suddenly found himself three outs away from the 24th perfect game in MLB history. At 107 pitches heading into the ninth, Ron Washington gave the OK for Darvish to complete the game, and the entire baseball world turned its eyes toward Houston.
Jason Castro grounds out to Elvis Andrus on two pitches. Out 25.
Carlos Corporan grounds out to Mitch Moreland on the first pitch of the at-bat. Out 26.
Then some guy named Marwin Gonzalez crashed the party, the same guy who hit .234 in 205 at-bats a season ago.
First pitch swinging, he lined a fastball back through the legs of Darvish, and subsequently let all the air out of the balloon.
8.2 innings pitched, 1 hit, 0 earned runs, 0 walks, 14 strikeouts, no perfect game.
It felt like I personally had just lost a chance at perfection. Total letdown
It was one of the greatest pitching performances in Texas Rangers history, and it will not soon be forgotten. The 14 strikeouts were the most by a Rangers pitcher since 1991, when someone by the name of Nolan Ryan did it against the Angels.
It was a masterpiece, albeit imperfect.
My quest to see a perfect game in its entirety will have to wait, but performances like Yu’s last night don’t come around too often.
It wasn’t history, but it was memorable.