Yu Gotta Be Kidding Me!

Yu Darvish was so close, yet so far away from a perfect game. Photo Courtesy: Darryl Briggs
Yu Darvish was so close, yet so far away from a perfect game. Photo Courtesy: Darryl Briggs

By Will Martin

April 3rd happens to be an anniversary date. One year ago on this day North Texas bore the brunt of some crazy tornado like weather.

Video of trailers being tossed hundreds of feet in the air made national news.

Similar also was Super Cell Tuesday. Go back 39 years ago on this day and read about Xenia, Ohio being the flashpoint of bad weather.

April 7th is the day the earliest no-hitter was ever recorded courtesy of Jack Morris in a 4-0 Tiger win over Chicago. Bob Feller threw an Opening Day no-no April 10th 1940.

Today’s starting Astro Philip Humber tossed a perfect game in Seattle last year on April 21st over the White Sox.

Astros pitching coach Dennis Martinez turned the trick in Los Angeles as an Expo 7/28/91. Three years to the day Kenny Rogers did the same thing on the Angels in Arlington.

Major League Baseball has seen six perfect games since 2009. Actually seven if you include the game Armando Galarraga was robbed of a few years back. The Rays have been blanketed three times since 2009. 23 in baseball’s history.

We almost saw #24 the other night in Houston. It would have been the earliest in a season and only the third time in 90 years. Take away Philip Humber you can go back 90 years.

Yu Darvish was a Texas Tornado with all of his arsenal of speed, off-speed, and obvious dominance of the pitching mound. Striking out 10 of his first 15 batters Yu looked dominant. This old man began to think back on games where a no-hitter was possible through later innings.

1974 I saw Doc Medich lose a no-hitter in the 9th inning at Shea Stadium in a 9-2 Yankee win over the Royals. The same happened to Rudy May in May 1976 at Kansas City. 1976 there were two instances when Doyle Alexander retired the first 20 batters faced. One was against the Indians in June of 1976 at Yankee Stadium.

April of 1993 I was in attendance when Gary DiSarcina had the only Angel hit in a Jimmy Key 1 hitter. 1989 I saw Nelson Liriano not allow a no-hitter for Nolan Ryan in the 9th inning. I seem to recall he did this twice.

The television remained on the Fox telecast of the Rangers-Astros. Houston fell victim to a perfect game in San Francisco the week of the U.S. Open. The Astros have never been no-hit at home. Darvish remained perfect through six, seven, and eight innings. My phone began to blow up.

I recalled being on a blind date in late July 2009 when the Rangers had a 1-hitter thrown against them by San Diego on a cloudy humid night. I forgot who the Padres pitcher was.

Onto the 9th inning. Two quick infield ground outs and 15 whiffs by Yu Darvish. Would history be made in Houston for a second straight night? 23,000 BASEBALL fans were on their feet.

Alas, no! Marwin Gonzalez proceeded to shoot a rocket through the legs of Darvish. Perfect game and no-hitter were gone. 117 pitches 15 strikeouts and no walks. An epic performance for the ages.

Yu Darvish through his interpreter was rather matter-of-fact about the outcome.

“I think my teammates were a little more disappointed than I am,” Darvish said. “Even if I got the [perfect] game, it doesn’t translate to three to five wins. It’s still just one win. I think my teammates were more disappointed than me.”

Any chance you could have gotten a better angle on the comebacker?

“That was impossible to catch,” Darvish said about a ball smacked by Astros shortstop Marwin Gonzalez through his legs, ruining his chance of being the 24th pitcher in Major League history to throw a perfect game.

Ironic that there were TWO perfect game pitchers in the ballpark with Humber and Dennis Martinez. Suffice to say that these two men could empathize with what almost happened Tuesday night in Houston Texas. Ironic that Humber was perfect in Seattle. Martinez played in Seattle in 1997 for a spell.

This brought me back to another topic. How often has a perfect game been lost on the 27th batter?

Mets fans have been told about Chicago Cub Jimmy Qualls from generation to generation. In the year of the World Series title-their first-Tom Seaver was money over Chicago July 8th 1969. 26 straight outs before Jimmy Qualls went to the plate. Qualls hit a clean single. Mets fans still cringe about that instance.

Cubs fans felt alot like Armando Galarraga on 9/2/72. Milt Pappas was on the mound for the Cubbies against the San Diego Padres. Larry Stahl was awarded a walk on a tight strike zone. Pappas got a no-hitter.

I remember watching future Ranger Carl Everett breaking the hearts of Yankee fans exactly 29 years after Milt Pappas got jobbed. Mike Mussina gets a 1 -hitter.

Hard to believe that a 27th out foiled has happened 11 times. Imagine if that 27th out was recorded each time. 34 perfect games instead of 23.

Even harder to fathom that 25% of all perfect games have happened in the last four years. That’s amazing stuff in today’s modern day.

Congratulations Yu Darvish on a job well done.