MLB Notebook: Darvish drama like few others
Right-hander comes up one out short of 24th perfect game in MLB history
When the Tigers' Tommy Bridges got to the mound for his start on Aug. 5, 1932, Major League Baseball hadn't had a perfect game in a decade. But on that Friday in Detroit, it looked as if that particular dry spell just might come to an end.
Facing a Senators lineup that included three future Hall of Famers, Bridges retired the side in order in each of the first eight innings, and he found himself three outs away from a place in the history books. In the ninth, that appointment came into even greater focus.
However, after seeing his first two batters of the ninth dispatched by Bridges, Senators manager Walter Johnson -- who, in 1920, had thrown a no-hitter that could have been a perfect game if not for an error in the seventh -- sent up a pinch-hitter named Dave Harris. Bridges, facing his 27th batter of the game, served up a clean single for Harris (who went on to hit .327 in 156 at-bats that season), and Bridges' bid for perfection ended. It would be 24 years until baseball saw a pitcher go the distance, face 27 batters and retire them all.
After retiring the first 26 batters he faced in order Tuesday, Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish allowed a two-out single to Marwin Gonzalez in the ninth and lost his bid for the 24th perfect game in Major League history. Darvish fanned 14 in the game.
Darvish was the first pitcher since Detroit's Armando Galarraga in 2010 and the 11th overall to lose a bid for a perfect game with two out in the ninth inning. Here are the 10 others to have had their run at perfection ended by the 27th batter of the contest:
• Hooks Wiltse: July 4, 1908. The 27th batter was hit-by-pitch. Wiltse ended up throwing a 10-inning no-hitter.
• Tommy Bridges: Aug. 5, 1932. The 27th batter (pinch-hitter) singled. Bridges finished with one-hit shutout.
• Billy Pierce: June 27, 1958. The 27th batter (pinch-hitter) doubled. Pierce settled for a one-hit shutout.
• Milt Pappas: Sept. 2, 1972. The 27th batter (pinch-hitter) walked. Pappas ended up with a no-hitter.
• Milt Wilcox: April 15, 1983. The 27th batter (pinch-hitter) singled. Wilcox finished with a one-hit shutout.
• Ron Robinson: May 2, 1988. The 27th batter (pinch-hitter) singled. Robinson then surrendered a two-run homer before being removed.
• Dave Stieb: Aug. 4, 1989. The 27th batter doubles and then scored on a subsequent hit. Stieb settled for a two-hitter.
• Brian Holman: April 20, 1990. The 27th batter (pinch-hitter) homered. Holman settled for a one-hitter.
• Mike Mussina: Sept. 2, 2001. The 27th batter (pinch-hitter) singled. Mussina finished with a one-hit shutout.
• Galarraga: June 2, 2010. The 27th batter (Jason Donald) reached first base on an incorrect call made by umpire Jim Joyce. Galarraga got the next batter for a one-hit shutout.
Darvish's 14 strikeouts were the most by a Rangers pitcher since Nolan Ryan had 14 K's on July 7, 1991. They were the most for a pitcher in a team's first or second game of the season since Randy Johnson had 14 in the Mariners' first game of the year in '96, and they gave Darvish -- who has made 30 career appearances -- nine double-digit strikeout games. Those nine through his first 30 tie Darvish with Kerry Wood for the third most since 1916. Dwight Gooden had 15, and Hideo Nomo had 11.
Darvish's line -- 8 2/3 innings, one hit, 14 K's, no walks, no runs -- worked out to a game score (an equation used to calculate a pitcher's dominance) of 96. Some notable elements to that score:
• It's the highest for a Rangers pitcher since Ryan posted a 101 on May 1, 1991 (no-hitter with 16 strikeouts and two walks).
• It's the highest for a pitcher this early in a season since Mike McCormick posted a 96 in the Giants' second game of the year in 1968.
• Dating back to 1916, it's the highest for any pitcher who went less than nine innings. The previous highest score was a 95 by Johan Santana on Aug. 19, 2007. In that contest, Santana allowed two hits with 17 strikeouts and no walks in eight innings.
The Orioles collected 13 hits (six for extra bases) and won their season opener, beating the Rays, 7-4. The middle of Baltimore's lineup -- Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and Chris Davis -- combined to go 6-for-12 with five extra-base hits, five runs scored and seven RBIs.
Wieters had two hits (a double and a homer), two runs scored, two RBIs and two walks. It marked the fourth time in his career he had -- while catching -- multiple hits, runs, walks and RBIs in the same game. Those four games as a catcher tie Wieters with Gabby Hartnett, Johnny Bench and Lance Parrish for the 10th most since 1916. Mickey Cochrane has the most such games, with 11.
Manny Machado -- at 20 years and 270 days old -- became the fourth-youngest Opening Day starter for the Orioles. Third baseman Brooks Robinson was the youngest, at 19 years and 332 days in 1957. Ron Hansen -- starting at shortstop -- was 20 years and 10 days old in '58, and in '62, Boog Powell was 20 years and 236 days old when he was the club's Opening Day starter in left field.
Here and there
• Justin Masterson (six innings, three hits, one run) and three Indians relievers combined on a four-hitter and Cleveland defeated Toronto, 4-1. Masterson -- making his second straight Opening Day start for the Indians -- picked up the win as Cleveland won on Opening Day for the first time since 2008. The four hits allowed are the fewest for the Tribe in an Opening Day victory since Gaylord Perry tossed a four-hitter and beat Mickey Lolich and the Tigers, 2-1, in 1973.
• Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki each homered for the second straight game, and the Rockies defeated the Brewers, 8-4. Before this season, six players in team history had homered in each of the first two games of the season: Vinny Castilla (1998), Larry Walker (2001), Charles Johnson ('04), Clint Barmes ('05), Tulowitzki ('09) and Ian Stewart ('10). Looking ahead, no Rockies player has homered in each of the team's first three games of the season.
• A day after shutting out the Athletics on three hits, Seattle defeated Oakland, 7-1, with starter Hisashi Iwakuma (six innings, two hits, one run, seven strikeouts) and two relievers combining on a three-hitter. Before the Mariners, the most recent team to open the season with two consecutive games of holding the opposition to three hits or fewer was the 1970 Reds. On Opening Day that year, Jim Merritt threw a three-hit complete game and beat the Expos, 5-1. The following day, Gary Nolan tossed a two-hit shutout and defeated the Dodgers.
• Madison Bumgarner threw eight innings of two-hit ball and the Giants blanked the Dodgers, 3-0. In addition to allowing just a pair of doubles in his eight innings, Bumgarner struck out six without walking one batter. Now in his age-23 season, Bumgarner has fanned 3.90 batters for every one walk in his career. In the modern era, for all pitchers with at least 500 innings through their age-23 season, that 3.90 mark is the best.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.