Rangers' Yu Darvish falls just shy of perfect game
HOUSTON (AP) -- Yu Darvish literally came within inches of perfection.
Darvish was one out from a perfect game when Marwin Gonzalez grounded a clean single through the pitcher's legs, and Texas beat the Houston Astros 7-0 on Tuesday night.
A screen shot of the play showed the ball sail what looked to be less than a foot below the pitcher's glove and into the outfield.
"That was impossible to catch," Darvish said through a translator.
The celebrated right-hander from Japan struck out a career-high 14 and was in complete control before Gonzalez smacked the first pitch he saw up the middle. Darvish was unable to get his glove down in time and the ball skittered into center field well beyond a desperate dive by shortstop Elvis Andrus.
At that moment, one thought went through Darvish's mind.
"I can now go back to the dugout," he deadpanned. "Even if I got the complete game today, it's not going to translate to three or five wins. It's a win. A win's a win."
Darvish smiled and put up his hands -- as if to say, "Oh well, it happens." Texas' infielders quickly came to the mound, and manager Ron Washington joined them.
"I didn't want to be the last out," Gonzalez said. "I was trying to look for a good pitch to hit and put it in play. That's all I was thinking."
Washington patted Darvish on the chest and then signaled for a reliever. A crowd of 22,673 that included plenty of Rangers fans cheered Darvish as he walked off after 111 pitches. He stopped and tipped his cap before getting high-fives from teammates in the dugout. He sat on the bench to watch the rest of the game then joined the handshake line after the final out.
And if Darvish was upset about coming oh so close, he didn't show it.
"I went that far," he said. "I'm really satisfied."
Working from the stretch throughout -- even though he never needed to -- Darvish became the first pitcher to lose a perfect game with two outs in the ninth inning since Armando Galarraga on June 2, 2010. Of course, the Detroit pitcher was denied only because of an infamous missed call at first base by umpire Jim Joyce, who later admitted he blew the play.
On the second full day of the major league season, Darvish nearly picked up right where baseball left off last year, when there were a record three perfect games, thrown by Philip Humber, Matt Cain and Felix Hernandez.
ORIOLES 7, RAYS 4
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Adam Jones keyed a seventh-inning rally with a go-ahead, two-run double and Chris Davis followed with a three-run homer to help Baltimore open the season with a victory over Tampa Bay.
Matt Wieters homered early off AL Cy Young Award winner David Price. Wieters later drew an intentional walk from reliever Jake McGee (0-1) before Davis' towering shot over the right-field wall broke open the game and silenced a sellout crowd of 34,078 at Tropicana Field.
Jason Hammel (1-0) allowed three runs and three hits in six innings. Jim Johnson pitched a scoreless ninth for the save.
Ben Zobrist hit a solo homer for the Rays and put them ahead with a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
INDIANS 4, BLUE JAYS 1
TORONTO (AP) -- R.A. Dickey and the overhauled Blue Jays lost their season opener to Cleveland.
Asdrubal Cabrera hit a two-run homer off the NL Cy Young Award winner, Justin Masterson pitched six solid innings and the Indians ended their streak of opening day losses at four.
Excited by the winter acquisitions of Dickey, Jose Reyes and other All-Stars, fans in Toronto were eager to see the revamped roster in action.
Instead, a disappointed sellout crowd of 48,857 watched Masterson and three relievers combine on a four-hitter. Masterson retired his last 11 batters and Chris Perez earned a save.
Dickey (0-1) allowed four runs, three earned, and five hits in six innings. The knuckleballer walked four and struck out four. His catcher, J.P. Arencibia, was charged with three passed balls in the first two innings.
MARINERS 7, ATHLETICS 1
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Michael Morse hit a three-run homer and a solo shot, and Hisashi Iwakuma followed up Felix Hernandez's gem with an impressive outing of his own in Seattle's victory over Oakland.
Iwakuma (1-0) struck out seven and didn't walk a batter as the Mariners won their second consecutive game against Oakland to begin the season. He gave up a leadoff homer by Yoenis Cespedes to the deepest part of center field in the second inning, then quickly regrouped and retired 15 of his final 16 hitters.
Kyle Seager doubled twice among his three hits, scored two runs and reached base five times. Kendrys Morales added an RBI single for Seattle, which is 2-0 for the eighth time in club history.
Morse, a former Mariners farmhand who returned to the franchise this season, had his sixth career two-homer game and first since Sept. 27 last year with Washington at Philadelphia.
Seattle tagged Jarrod Parker (0-1) for four runs and five hits in five innings.
Giants 3, Dodgers 0
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Madison Bumgarner pitched two-hit ball over eight innings, giving the San Francisco Giants a 3-0 win against the Dodgers while overshadowing the major league debut of high-priced Los Angeles pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu on Tuesday night.
Bumgarner (1-0) struck out six and walked none in the second straight gem at Dodger Stadium. The only hits were a pair of doubles by Andre Ethier and A.J. Ellis. Left-hander Clayton Kershaw homered and pitched a four-hit shutout in the Dodgers' 4-0 victory on opening day Monday.
Sergio Romo worked a perfect ninth to earn his first save of the season.
Ryu's debut helped draw 45,431 fans to see the left-hander who signed a $36 million, six-year deal with the team in December, making him the first player to go directly from the Korea Baseball Organization to the U.S. major leagues.
Ryu (0-1) gave up three runs -- one earned -- and 10 hits in 6.1 innings. He struck out five, walked none and threw 80 pitches against the defending World Series champions.
CARDINALS 6, DIAMONDBACKS 1
PHOENIX (AP) -- Matt Holliday, Pete Kozma and Jon Jay homered as St. Louis beat Arizona to even their season-opening series at a game apiece.
Jaime Garcia (1-0) gave up two hits, one of them a homer by Miguel Montero, in 5.2 innings for the Cardinals. Holliday's two-run shot off Trevor Cahill broke a 1-all tie in the sixth.
Kozma added a leadoff homer and Jay a two-run drive off the right-field foul pole, both off reliever Heath Bell in the seventh.
Kozma's homer came on Bell's first pitch with the Diamondbacks. Matt Carpenter doubled twice for St. Louis.
Cahill (0-1) allowed three runs and five hits in 5.2 innings. He struck out seven.
ROCKIES 8, BREWERS 4
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez each homered for the second straight game, leading Colorado past Milwaukee and giving Walt Weiss his first win as a major league manager.
Tulowitzki is off to quick start after missing the last four months of the 2012 season with an injured left groin that required surgery. The All-Star shortstop went 2 for 5 with a homer and two RBIs in Monday's opening day loss.
Ryan Braun hit his first homer of the season for Milwaukee, a two-run shot.
Edgmer Escalona (1-0) pitched 1.2 innings of scoreless relief for the win. Rafael Betancourt got one out for his first save.
The Rockies broke it open in the seventh by scoring three runs off relievers Michael Gonzalez (0-1) and Burke Badenhop.