Posted April 03, 2013 on AP on Fox
Yu Darvish was one out from a perfect game when Marwin Gonzalez grounded a clean single through the pitcher's legs, and the Texas Rangers beat the Houston Astros 7-0 on Tuesday night. The celebrated right-hander from Japan struck out 14 and appeared to be 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. Darvish put up his hands -- almost like, "Oh well, it happens." Texas' infielders immediately came to the mound, and manager Ron Washington joined them. Washington patted Darvish on the chest and then signaled for a reliever. A crowd that included plenty of Rangers fans cheered Darvish as he walked off after 111 pitches. He sat on the bench to watch the rest of the game, and took part in the congratulations line when it ended. 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 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. If Darvish had been able to finish the job Tuesday, it would have been the earliest perfecto in history. He 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 of just 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. 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 last year. 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. 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 wall in left-center for the first out of the fifth. First baseman Mitch Moreland made a nice catch on a liner by Ankiel for the second out before Darvish fanned Maxwell on three pitches to end the inning. 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. 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. Notes 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.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES
SO CLOSE

Single up the middle ruins perfect game

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish made sure the new guys in the division realized that they have a long way to go before they can really hang with the big boys by throwing a near perfect game. Tuesday night the sophomore pitching sensation dominated the Houston Astros line-up striking out 14 of the first 26 batters he faced, but with one out to go and Major League Baseball...

Darvish almost perfect for Rangers against Astros

Texas manager Ron Washington was certainly impressed as he watched Yu Darvish flirt with perfection. He was even more blown away when he saw a television replay of the Japanese star coming within an out of the second perfect game in Rangers history. Washington says, ''he was nasty ... his ball was moving all over the place.'' The celebrated right-hander struck...

Year two of Yu begins Tuesday night

HOUSTON Yu Version 2.0 makes his 2013 Tuesday night against the Houston Astros and big things are expected from Yu Darvish in his second season in the majors. Darvish, who did everything the club expected of him as a rookie, has a comfort level this year that he didnt have to start his rookie year in the majors. That could make for some very long nights for Texas opponents. I...

Twitter Takedown: Fans react to Yu Darvish’s near perfect game for Texas Rangers

Yu Darvish came up one out short of throwing a perfect game, and fans on Twitter were feeling for the Texas Rangers pitcher.

Darvish almost perfect in Rangers opener

Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish came within one out throwing a perfect game against the Astros. So we’re all of three days into the new season and it’s already been memorable, if nothing short of amazing. One night after Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw became the first pitcher since 1953 to throw a shutout and homer in the same game and Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper homered in...

Darvish loses perfect game with 2 outs in 9th

HOUSTON (AP) -- Yu Darvish was one out from a perfect game when Marwin Gonzalez grounded a clean single through the pitcher's legs, and the Texas Rangers beat the Houston Astros 7-0 on Tuesday night. The celebrated right-hander from Japan struck out 14 and appeared to be in complete control before Gonzalez smacked the first pitch up the middle. Darvish was unable to get his...

Yu Darvish Has Bid for Perfect Game Snapped With Two Outs in Ninth Inning, Strikes Out 14

HOUSTON — Yu Darvish was one out from a perfect game when Marwin Gonzalez grounded a clean single through the pitcher’s legs, and the Texas Rangers beat the Houston Astros 7-0 on Tuesday night. The celebrated right-hander from Japan struck out 14 and appeared to be in complete control before Gonzalez smacked the first pitch up the middle. Darvish was unable to get his glove down...

Yu almost had it

I knew I would miss tonight’s game because of social plans.  I figured it was no big deal.  Even though it was a Yu Darvish start, it was also his first start of the season.  First of many.  But I wonder if any will be as spectacular as this one. While I was with my friends, I monitored the score via At Bat and Twitter.  I was pretty excited when I saw Darvish had five strikeouts...

Dugout Digest - so close, yet so far

Yu Darvish was the story around the leagye on Tuesday night. Darvish was just one out shy of a perfect game in Houston, but a single up the middle by Marwin Gonzalez ruined Darvish's dream of history. So close, yet so far...I'm sure this won't be the first time Darvish flirts with history this year. PIC OF THE DAY Yu Darvish tips his cap to the ground as...

Rangers 4, Astros 0

A day after Yu Darvish came within one out of a perfect game, Alexi Ogando and four Texas relievers shut out the Astros again, combining for a five-hitter in the Rangers' 4-0 win over Houston on Wednesday. Lance Berkman doubled in a run for the Rangers a day after they blanked Houston 7-0 behind Darvish's nearly historic gem. Ogando (1-0) allowed four hits with a career...

Yu Ain't Perfect, But Close Enough

Yu Darvish pitched 8 2/3 perfect innings against the Houston Astros last night, striking out 14 batters.  Earlier yesterday afternoon, Keith tweeted this:Yu Darvish might strike out 10-15 #Astros tonight! #Rangers— Keith Lott (@WeTlkFntsySprts) April 2, 2013I literally want to throw up. Darvish was lights out and got the first 2 outs of the 9th in just 3 pitches. Marwin Gonzalez...

Daily Notes: Featuring an Idle Thought on Imperfection

Table of Contents Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of the Daily Notes. 1. An Idle Thought on Imperfection 2. Today’s Notable Games (Including MLB.TV Free Game) 3. Today’s Game Odds, Translated into Winning Percentages An Idle Thought on Imperfection Inspecting Tuesday’s single-game xFIP leaderboard (among starting pitchers only) — a thing which is now...
MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.