Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Stark [Print without images]

Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Updated: April 4, 10:26 AM ET
The dominance of Yu Darvish


As you watched Yu Darvish carve up the Astros on Tuesday night, did it enter your mind at all:

Could this team get no-hit like six times this year?

Baseball Prospectus projects that this Astros lineup is going to hit .236/.303/.385 this year. And friends, that's hard to do in this day and age.

Over the past 20 years, only one National League team has matched or submerged beneath that slash line. And that would be …

Last year's Astros (.236/.302/.371).

Who were only no-hit once all season, for what it's worth (by Matt Cain). So take the under.

On the other hand, the Astros now play in a division that includes Felix Hernandez, Jered Weaver, Jarrod Parker, Brett Anderson and a whole parade of other live arms. And they're now in the same league as Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, David Price, Chris Sale, Jon Lester and CC Sabathia. Among others.

Yu Darvish
The Astros were no match for Yu Darvish, who fanned 14 of 27 batters.

So just for future reference, it looks like, while they're lined up to miss King Felix next week, they'll then run into Weaver the following weekend. And, a week or so after that, they'll kick off a stretch in which they face the Mariners, Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers, Angels, Rangers and then Tigers again, in that order. So don't shut down that No-Hitter Watch quite yet.

In other Darvish tidbits …

• We tend to think of no-hitters and perfect games as being, for the most part, random and flukish occurrences. But that wouldn't describe this game. In fact, there has never been a pitcher who was as dominant as Darvish was Tuesday who had his perfecto broken up with two outs in the ninth. Never.

Until Marwin Gonzalez bounced that single up the middle, Darvish had thrown 109 pitches and the Astros had only put 12 of them in play all night -- meaning they'd accumulated more strikeouts (14) than fair balls (12). Amazing.

According to Joe Taxiera's invaluable stat/record book, "A Unique Look at Big League Baseball," Darvish was the 11th pitcher in history to have a perfect game broken up with two outs in the ninth. Not one of the previous 10 had struck out at least 14 of the first 26 hitters. And only two of those 10 reached double figures in whiffs:

Mike Mussina of the Yankees (13), on Sept. 2, 2001, against the Red Sox.

Dave Stieb of the Blue Jays (11), on Aug. 4, 1989, against the Yankees.

So this was, officially, the most overpowering brush with perfection ever witnessed.

• Another oddity: The Astros spent 50 years in the National League and never once got no-hit in a game played in Houston. Then they almost got no-hit in their second game there in the American League.

• And here's one more: Until last season (when Cain did it), we'd only had one perfect game pitched in history in which a pitcher piled up 14 strikeouts or more. Sandy Koufax pitched that one, on Sept. 9, 1965. Then we almost had two of those games bust out in 9½ months -- against the same team. Crazy.

• OK, how about yet one more: Had the Astros been the victims of a perfect game, at least they would have had the (ahem) perfect solution for how to respond the next day -- by starting a pitcher who has pitched a perfect game (Wednesday's Astros starter: Philip Humber, who threw one last year).

• So how dominating was Darvish in this game? He got the Astros to swing and miss 27 times. As ESPN Stats & Info reported, only one pitcher in the last five years has gotten more swings and misses in any start: Francisco Liriano (30), against Oakland last year.

• Just for comparison's sake, that's three more swings and misses against Darvish in one night than Aaron Cook has induced in his last eight starts combined. Cook in those eight starts, according to PitchFX: 540 pitches, 24 swings that missed.

• A cool note from the Elias Sports Bureau: Had Darvish gotten that 27th out, he would have been the first pitcher ever to twirl a perfect game in his first start of any season.

• Fun question from Twitter follower Jorge J. Muniz Ortiz: Would Darvish have had the shortest first name of any pitcher ever to pitch a perfect game? And the answer is: Nope -- with an asterisk. A fellow named Cy Young pitched the first perfecto in modern history on May 5, 1904. However …

As you Cy Young aficionados know, Young's real first name was Denton. So if we disallow nicknames, Darvish would have broken the record shared by Roy Halladay, Len Barker, Jim Bunning, Don Larsen and Lee Richmond. Oh, well.

• And one more thing that would have made this perfect game particularly amazing: To throw a perfect game, you need to walk nobody, correct? Well, this was the 31st start of Darvish's big league career. You know how many times he walked zero in the other 30 starts?

That would be none. Of course!