Yu almost perfect: Astros break up Darvish gem with two outs in ninth

David Brown
Big League Stew

No, Yu didn't.

Texas Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish came within one out of pitching a perfect game Tuesday, allowing a hard single through his legs and up the middle to Houston's Marwin Gonzalez after he had retired the first 26 batters.

"I think my teammates are more disappointed than I am," Darvish told reporters after the game.

Darvish struck out 14 and threw 111 pitches before being taken out by manager Ron Washington just one out short of matching Kenny Rogers for the only perfect game in club history. Regardless, Darvish's performance was an example of what made the Rangers pay $111 million for his services before the 2012 season, when he came over from Japan. He's not just hype.

Teammate Nelson Cruz said Darvish was "like a video game." The Astros just didn't have nearly enough quarters to play.

Pitching entirely from the stretch, as he has done exclusively since May, Darvish dominated a team that beat the Rangers on opening day at Minute Maid Park. Texas won this time 7-0, allowing two hits overall, with Michael Kirkman finishing.

In history, ten perfect games have been broken up with two outs in the ninth, most recently Armando Galarraga's in Detroit, ruined by a blown call by umpire Jim Joyce. This time, Gonzalez hit a clean single with no controversy. Just disappointment.

"I told him I loved him. He pitched a helluva game for us tonight," Ron Washington told reporters.

Three major leaguers — Philip Humber, Matt Cain and Felix Hernandez — tossed perfect games in 2012. Darvish's catcher, A.J. Pierzynski, also caught Humber's perfecto against the Mariners a season ago.

"I don't think I've ever been so disappointed with a shutout in my life. It just wasn't meant to be," said Pierzynski, who admitted to making eye contact with Humber — now on the Astros in the opposing dugout — during Yu's masterpiece.

Coming in, the earliest no-hitter by the calendar was by Hideo Nomo, Darvish's countryman, who no-hit the Baltimore Orioles on April 4, 2001. Bob Feller of the Indians has the only no-hitter on opening day, which came against the Chicago White Sox on April 16, 1940.

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