Texas Rangers: Marwin Gonzalez

Buzz: A.J. Pierzynski just misses history, too

April, 3, 2013

HOUSTON -- Yu Darvish flirted with baseball history Tuesday night. So did new Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski.

"Spanning the Globe" features the Metro New York's Kristian Dyer, ESPN LA 710's Dave Shore, ESPN Dallas' Jean-Jacques Taylor and the New York Post's Marc Berman.

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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.

Other notes:

  • 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."
  • Darvish says one-hitter isn't his best outing

    April, 3, 2013
    AM CT

    HOUSTON -- Not surprisingly, Yu Darvish took his close call with perfection on Tuesday night like the graceful pitcher he's been in 30 starts with the Rangers.

    The excitement of Yu Darvish's near-perfect game has Rangers fans brimming with hope. Play-by-play voice Steve Busby talks about Yu's outstanding effort.

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    In fact, he brushed it aside, then said his domination of the Houston Astros wasn't the best he's ever pitched as a Ranger. He also didn't show any signs of moping about the rocket ground ball that blazed through his legs and broke up his perfect game with two outs in the ninth inning.

    "I think my teammates were more disappointed than I was," Darvish said through a translator after the Rangers' 7-0 victory over the Astros. Darvish was an out away from throwing the 24th perfect game in major league history.

    Darvish needed just four pitches to get the first two outs of the bottom of the ninth. Facing his 27th hitter, Astros shortstop Marwin Gonzalez, Darvish went with the same cutter he threw for every pitch in the ninth inning. Unfortunately, Darvish hung the pitch, and Gonzalez was able to get the barrel of the bat on it, lining it to center field for a single.

    "That was impossible to catch," Darvish said.

    It was a big moment for Gonzalez, who was part of the Astros team that had a perfect game thrown against it last year by San Francisco's Matt Cain.

    "I didn't want to be the last out," Gonzalez said. "I was trying to look for a good pitch to hit and put the ball in play. That's all I was thinking in my mind."

    It was one of the few mistakes Darvish made. He was that dominant.

    Still, at one point during his postgame news conference, Darvish said it wasn't the best game he's pitched in the major leagues, even though he had a career-high 14 strikeouts and retired the first 26 batters he faced, all but maybe three of them rather easily.

    He said he was better in a start last September against the Kansas City Royals when he retired the first 17 batters he faced.

    "I think I got lucky today," Darvish said. "I felt I pitched better against the Royals last year. I had better command in that outing."

    Rangers react to Darvish's near perfection

    April, 3, 2013
    AM CT

    HOUSTON -- The scene in the Rangers' clubhouse after Tuesday's game was one of both pride and disappointment after Yu Darvish's near miss of the 24th perfect game in major league history.

    "Spanning the Globe" features the Metro New York's Kristian Dyer, ESPN LA 710's Dave Shore, ESPN Dallas' Jean-Jacques Taylor and the New York Post's Marc Berman.

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    Darvish was poised for history with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and the 27th batter, Astros shortstop Marwin Gonzalez, stepping into the batter's box. The feeling was that Darvish, who had dominated Houston all night, was going to join Kenny Rogers as the only Rangers pitchers to throw a perfect game.

    "When you're throwing the ball as well as Yu was throwing it, you felt like he was going to get it," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "It wasn't meant to be."

    When Darvish retired the first two Astros he faced in the ninth, Jason Castro and Carlos Corporan, second baseman Ian Kinsler admitted that he started thinking about what the celebration would be like.

    But Gonzalez had other ideas. He swung at the first pitch -- a hanging cutter that he was looking for -- and lined it through Darvish's legs for a clean single to ruin the perfect-game bid.

    "Yu got a little unlucky," Kinsler said. "He definitely threw a pitch where he didn't want to."

    Elvis Andrus, who was hoping the ball would be deflected by Darvish and end up near him at shortstop, said it was one of those moments that wasn't mean to be, just like the 2011 World Series.

    "That's baseball," Andrus said.

    Despite an agonizing end to the game, Darvish's teammates said they were in awe of the way he dominated Astros hitters. Kinsler said it was the best pitched game he's been a part of, better than when Mark Buerhle no-hit him and the Rangers in 2007.

    "It was so much fun to be a part of something like that," Kinsler said. "Whether it's completed or not. He just absolutely dominated the game."

    Catcher A.J. Pierzynski was one of the Rangers who talked to Darvish after the game.

    "He knows how good he threw the ball," Pierzynski said. "After the game, he kind of smiled and laughed, and I kind of said some bad words to him and I was upset. He was good."