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Yu Darvish not quite perfect, but plenty close enough

Apr 2, 2013, 11:18 PM EDT

Yu Darvish AP

It looked like destiny was on his side when Yu Darvish made such quick work of Jason Castro and Carlos Corporan to start the ninth inning Tuesday against Astros. Seconds later, destiny rolled right between his legs into center field.

In the end, the pitch count may have gotten to Darvish. Not that he seemed stressed at all, but everyone else was, since he wasn’t slated to throw more than 90-100 pitches tonight after taking it relatively easy in spring training. Having skipped the WBC, his high pitch total in March was 73. The two-out single Marwin Gonzalez hit off him in the bottom of the ninth tonight came on his 111th and final pitch. The Rangers removed him immediately, and Michael Kirkman went on to finish off the 7-0 victory.

Knowing that the Rangers wanted a quick inning — actually, they really didn’t want to send him back out for the ninth at all — Darvish attacked the plate and got two quick groundouts. Gonzalez, too, swung at the first pitch, knocking it right back through the box past Darvish and shortstop Elvis Andrus.

Whille Darvish didn’t get his perfect game, it was a marvelous effort. He fanned 14 of the first 23 hitters he faced, before he seemed to stop going for the K. Prior to Gonzalez’s single, Chris Carter‘s drive to the wall in the fifth was the only occasion on which the Astros came close to a hit .

If anything takes away from the outing, it’s that it did come against the American League’s worst offense. The Astros are going to be prone to games like this. Jose Altuve is the only high-average hitter in the entire lineup, and one imagines other pitchers will pull off impressive feats against the team this year, whether it’s a no-hitter or an 18-strikeout game.

Darvish, though, would have done much the same against any lineup tonight. Maybe not a no-hitter, but eight scoreless innings anyway. Darvish’s command can waver, but his varied arsenal and moving fastball make him about as tough to hit as any AL starter. If, with a year in the majors under his belt, he’s completed the adjustment to pitching every five or six days, as opposed to once a week in Japan, he’s a threat for AL Cy Young honors. He already finds himself with a nice head start.

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  1. youknowwhatsgoodforshoulderpain - Apr 2, 2013 at 11:36 PM

    I was out of fingernails to bite in the ninth. So close! Just a fun, fun game to watch, as a Ranger fan.

  2. jeffa43 - Apr 2, 2013 at 11:42 PM

    I felt sorry for the fans in attendance…

  3. mscott4 - Apr 2, 2013 at 11:46 PM

    Great performance by Yu. Amazing to pitch that well in first start of the season.

    #NoNoNo4Yu

  4. term3186 - Apr 3, 2013 at 12:00 AM

    Fun fact: There have been 23 perfect games, but only 11 potential perfect games spoiled by the 27th batter.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:00 AM

      The other 10:
      7/4/1908—George Wiltse, NY Giants vs. Philadelphia Phillies, (hit George McQuillen with pitch; Wiltse finished with a 10-inning no-hitter)
      8/5/1932—Tommy Bridges, Detroit vs. Washington, Dave Harris got a hit
      6/27/1958—Billy Pierce, Chicago White Sox vs. Washington, Ed Fitz Gerald (2B)
      9/2/1972—Milt Pappas, Chicago Cubs vs. San Diego, Larry Stahl (walk; Pappas then finished no-hitter)
      4/15/1983—Milt Wilcox, Detroit at Chicago White Sox, Jerry Hairston
      5/2/1988—Ron Robinson, Cincinnati vs. Montreal, Wallace Johnson
      8/4/1989—Dave Stieb, Toronto vs. New York Yankees, Roberto Kelly (2B)
      4/20/1990—Brian Holman, Seattle vs. Oakland, Ken Phelps (HR)
      9/2/2001—Mike Mussina, New York Yankees at Boston, Carl Everett
      6/2/2010 — Armando Galarraga, Detroit vs Cleveland, (mistaken call at 1st by umpire)

  5. blazertop - Apr 3, 2013 at 12:02 AM

    What is the record for the number of times a team has been no-hit in a season? Astros could break that this year.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Apr 3, 2013 at 1:48 AM

      The record is twice, most recently by the Rays in 2010, and Padres in 2001. Before that a dozen teams have so succumbed. Best (?) was the White Sox in 1917 who were no-hit two days in a row by St. Louis (but not back to back as the 2nd one was the 2nd game of a twinbill).

  6. mudhead123 - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:01 AM

    It was the Astros. Worst team in MLB. Still a solid outing

  7. btwicey - Apr 3, 2013 at 4:24 AM

    Having a foreigner as such a beast of a pitcher Is so good for baseball worldwide

  8. jcarne9014 - Apr 3, 2013 at 6:47 AM

    Please stop with the pitch count discussion!! Please! He threw 111 pitches, not 200! Jesus. The most useless and stupid statistic in the history of sports.

    • yyyass - Apr 3, 2013 at 6:52 AM

      Amen to that 1000 times. Yanking a guy with a perfect game because he gave up ground ball single. Baseball has levels of coaching idiocy like no other sport.

    • anythingbutyanks - Apr 3, 2013 at 8:42 AM

      The problem isn’t that he threw 111 pitches. it is that he threw 111 pitches on the first game of the season after never throwing as many as 80 during spring training. By July it will be no biggie to go over 100 pitches every game, and if pursuing a perfect game they could very well let him go over 120. The risk of injury is simply less when the body has been worked into carrying a bigger load over a period of time.

      • yyyass - Apr 3, 2013 at 9:09 AM

        There’s no science behind the magic number of “100 pitches”. It’s a silly round number that managers and pitching coaches have latched on to because it’s easy to remember and lets them feel like they are actually making some informed decision instead of teh usual idiotic “gut” moves.

      • jcarne9014 - Apr 3, 2013 at 9:12 AM

        That would be fine, except there is NO DATA to support your statement. It may seem like common sense that if you throw fewer pitches the risk for injury is lessened, but there is no proof. Pitchers used to throw every fourth game and attempt to complete every game. Now, they throw every fifth game and need to get through the sixth, or maybe, the seventh inning. They have been conditioned to throw fewer pitches and I think the game has suffered because of it.

  9. deathmonkey41 - Apr 3, 2013 at 9:18 AM

    The George Constanza who didn’t have sex wouldn’t consider this close at all…

  10. kelshannon19 - Apr 3, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    Quit saying “it was only the Astros” crap. They are still a Major League Baseball team who could kick our asses if we lined up against them. Darvish just was flat out dealing. He would have duplicated this against anybody last night.

    • kelshannon19 - Apr 3, 2013 at 1:52 PM

      Besides, if it was “just the Astros,” then how bad does that make Matt Harrison?

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