Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Buzz: A.J. Pierzynski just misses history, too
By Todd Wills
HOUSTON -- Yu Darvish flirted with baseball history Tuesday night. So did new Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski.
Pierzynski was an out away from becoming the second catcher in baseball history to catch two perfect games. Ron Hassey still holds that distinction all to himself after Houston shortstop Marwin Gonzalez broke up Darvish's perfect-game bid with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. The Rangers went on to win 7-0 at Minute Maid Park.
Pierzynski was behind the plate for Philip Humber's perfect game with the White Sox against Seattle on April 12 last year. Amazingly, Humber was in the Astros' dugout Tuesday night and is starting for Houston against the Rangers on Wednesday.
Pierzynski was aware that he was on the verge of matching Hassey's record, he said Wednesday morning.
"I knew about it," said Pierzynski, who also caught Mark Buehrle's no-hitter with the White Sox in 2007.
Pierzynski's hitting coach with the White Sox, Greg Walker, played with Hassey. So Pierzynski said he and Walker had talked about Hassey catching Len Barker's perfect game with Cleveland in 1981 and Dennis Martinez's in 1991 with the Montreal Expos.
Pierzynski's perfect games caught would have had a different distinction, coming in back-to-back seasons. Pierzynski was noticeably disappointed in the moments after Darvish lost his perfect game, more for his pitcher than himself.
"He wants to do well," Pierzynski said. "He was close to doing something really special."
Darvish took missing the 24th perfect game in major league history in stride, smiling and enjoying the moment as manager Ron Washington came out to pull him after Gonzalez's hit.
Pierzynski, meanwhile, showed a different emotion.
"Sure, I was mad," Pierzynski said. "It was frustrating to be that close to a perfect game and lose it."
Pierzynski still has Humber's perfect game. He shared an interesting moment with his former teammate after Darvish retired Carlos Corporan for the second out of the ninth inning.
Pierzynski said he looked into the Astros dugout and made eye contact with Humber.
"He didn't look up at first, but then he did," Pierzynski said.
Leonys Martin, and not Craig Gentry, is starting in center field Wednesday, even though the latter had a double and a triple and scored two runs in his first start Tuesday night.
"I have two center fielders," Washington said. "This is not a platoon. I put Gentry against a righty yesterday. I have to find both of them playing time."
Martin is 2-for-4 against Humber, so that likely factored into Washington's decision. Gentry will start Friday against the Angels and left-hander Jason Vargas.
Washington said he will try to get closer Joe Nathan into Wednesday's game. Nathan was up in the bullpen in the eighth inning Tuesday while Darvish had his perfect game going and the Rangers were leading 5-0. The Rangers scored two runs in the ninth for a 7-0 lead and when Darvish lost his perfect game and Washington pulled him, reliever Michael Kirkman came in and finished the game.
Elvis Andrus' two triples Tuesday night tied a club record, accomplished eight other times. Michael Young was the last Ranger with two triples in a game, in 2002.
Friday's home opener against the Angels is sold out. Approximately 1,500 tickets remain for Saturday's game. There are 10,000 tickets left for Sunday's 7:05 p.m. game with Darvish starting. Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M will throw out the ceremonial first pitch Sunday night.
The last word on Darvish's near perfect game comes from Washington, who caught highlights of the game back in the hotel early Wednesday morning. The manager said Darvish looked even more dominant on TV. "He was nasty," Washington said. "His ball was moving all over the place."