This wasn’t the closest Yu Darvish ever came to pitching a perfect game – he had one broken up with two outs in the ninth on April 2, 2013 against the Astros – but boy, was his performance on Friday against the Red Sox impressive.
Perfect or not, Darvish was absolutely stifling all night, as the Red Sox could not get anything off of the Texas righthander. Through five innings, he had retired all 15 Red Sox hitters he faced, striking out nine of them.
He picked up right where he left off in the sixth inning, getting A.J. Pierzynski to ground out to second and Will Middlebrooks to foul out to first. After he struck out Jackie Bradley Jr. to end the sixth, he walked off the mound having retired all 18 Red Sox hitters he faced, throwing just 76 pitches.
Darvish started off the seventh inning by getting Dustin Pedroia to fly out to center, then forced Shane Victorino to ground out to first to make it 20-for-20 for Darvish.
The perfect game was spoiled when David Ortiz lifted a fly ball into right field that fell between second baseman Rougned Odor and Alex Rios, counting as an error that kept the no-hitter intact, igniting a scoring controversy that some say should have been ruled a hit. After a walk to Mike Napoli, Grady Sizemore flew out to right that left the Red Sox officially hitless through seven innings.
A walk to Xander Bogaerts led off the eighth inning, but a groundout by Pierzynski, a pop out by Middlebrooks, and a strikeout by Bradley sent the Texas starter to the ninth inning having not allowed a single hit.
Darvish came out for the ninth inning having thrown 113 pitches, and got Pedroia to ground out to third, then struck out Victorino for the second out. The no-hitter ended on the next batter, as Ortiz singled through the shift to end Darvish’s night. He left the game after throwing 126 pitches to a standing ovation from the crowd.
The final line for Darvish was 8.2 inning pitched, no runs allowed on one hit with two walks and 12 strikeouts. This was the second time in his career that he lost a no-hitter with two outs in the ninth (see the aforementioned perfect game bid).
While the scoring controversy was silenced after Oritz’s ninth inning hit, what shouldn’t be lost is how incredible Darvish pitched on Friday, and how the Red Sox almost witnessed history thanks to the hurler on the other side of the diamond.