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Yu Darvish perfect game bid falls one out short
Question of the Day
“He threw all seven of his pitches in, out, up, down and every way you could throw a ball tonight,” said Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who caught Humber’s perfect game for the White Sox last season. “You get to that point and you start thinking it’s going to happen, but it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Darvish’s 14 strikeouts matched a Minute Maid Park record and were the most by a Rangers pitcher since Hall of Famer and current team CEO Nolan Ryan had 14 in July 1991 against the Angels.
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.
“I think I got lucky today. I felt I pitched better against the Royals last year,” Darvish said. “I had better command in that outing.”
If he had been able to finish the job Tuesday, it would have been the earliest perfecto in history.
Darvish 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.
“He hit the ball really good right up the middle,” Andrus said. “I tried really hard to get to it. I think I dove and it was like 10 feet from me. I was praying that at least his glove would touch it and slow it down, but he hit it pretty hard.”
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 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.
By Mark Davis
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