Texas Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish has been a bridesmaid numerous times but never a bride when it comes to finishing off historic pitching performances. On Friday, the trend continued as Darvish fell one out short of his first career no-hitter when David Ortiz singled cleanly through the Rangers shift into right field.
It was an absolutely dominant performance from start to finish, as one can imagine it would be when you're able to hold an offense as powerful as Boston's hitless into the ninth inning. Darvish struck out 12 — including six in a row spanning the second and fourth innings — and threw 126 pitches. He was immediately removed by manager Ron Washington, after the no-hit bid was broken up and left the field to a thunderous standing ovation, so he also fell short of a complete game shutout in Texas' 8-0 victory.
Yet somehow, through it all, even a no-hitter would have been unsatisfying, because Darvish also came seven outs short of a perfect game, losing that bid on a painful defensive miscommunication that in turn led to a controversial scoring decision.
That man again David Ortiz was at the center of it. On a 3-1 pitch, he skied a routine fly ball to medium right field that was well within reach of outfielder Alex Rios and second baseman Rougend Odor, who was playing in only his second career game. It's a play that absolutely has to be made at the major league level, because all it required was a little communication. However, it fell between them harmlessly bringing the perfect game to an abrupt and stunning end.
After much deliberation, official scorer Steve Weller scored it an error on right fielder Alex Rios. However, under usual circumstances that type of play is almost always ruled a hit without even a second thought because it was a mental breakdown, not a physical one, and the fielders never actually touched the ball.
The scoring will obviously be debated, and perhaps even changed in light of Darvish losing his no-hit bid. However, Rule 10.12, which was cited quite often on Friday night, may have given MLB a reference point had they decided to keep it a no-hitter. Here's how that rule is worded specific to fly balls:
It is not necessary that the fielder touch the ball to be charged with an error. The official scorer shall charge an outfielder with an error if such outfielder allows a fly ball to drop to the ground if, in the official scorers judgment, an outfielder at that position making ordinary effort would have caught such fly ball. If a throw is low, wide or high, or strikes the ground, and a runner reaches base who otherwise would have been put out by such throw, the official scorer shall charge the player making the throw with an error.
Now, here's Weller's explanation.
Official scorer: "In my judgement, when the ball goes up in the air, I felt like the 2B or RF under normal effort could’ve caught the ball"— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) May 10, 2014
It's difficult to argue with his perspective, and it actually probably should be a simple call, but the precedent that has been around MLB still makes it a debatable call.
Everyone citing Rule 10.12: Of course it *should* apply. When balls drop between fielders and whom to charge it is in question, it doesn't.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 10, 2014
For what it's worth, Ortiz also believes the scoring will be changed.
David Ortiz believes error will be changed to a hit. "When it comes to the rules of the game, that's a hit" #RedSox— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) May 10, 2014
As it stands, Darvish officially came one out short of entering the history books for the second time in his career.
The first time came in his opening start during the 2013 season when Houston's Marwin Gonzalez broke up a perfect game bid with a clean single that skipped between Darvish's legs and into center field. Later that season, Darvish also carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning against Houston, losing it on Carlos Corporan's home run.
The lesson we should have learned by this point: Yu Darvish is a no-hitter or better waiting to happen every time he takes the mound. One of these days it will happen, and it will be all the more satisfying after so many near misses.
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