On the 10th anniversary of MLB’s last perfect game, here are 10 games that should, could have been No. 24

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Drew Rasmussen was very close to history on Sunday afternoon. He went eight innings and had outs on each of the 24 batters he faced. It was a perfect game with only three outs to go. He was so efficient that he hadn’t even hit 80 pitches.

And then Baltimore Orioles shortstop Jorge Mateo doubled down the left-field line and that was it. (The Rays would win 4-1.)

Perhaps coincidentally, Monday marks the 10th anniversary of the last perfect game in Major League Baseball. It was Félix Hernández of the Seattle Mariners on August 15, 2012, who did it, going 27 up and 27 down against none other than the Rays. It was the 23rd perfect game in MLB history and a decade later we still have 23.

Drought isn’t really a big mystery. It’s incredibly difficult to pitch a perfect game and that’s why the feat is so celebrated. Rasmussen and many others could attest.

There was once a drought of more than 13 years (1968-1981), but in 2010 we only had to wait three weeks between feats. The space is nothing more than a random coincidence, so any attempt to explain a drought is nonsense.

We can, however, have a bit of fun analyzing some of the closest calls in the decade since then. Here are the other 10 most recent brushes with immortality between King Felix’s jewel and Rasmussen’s flirtation. Working backwards from the most recent…

Not that we needed a reminder about the marathon nature of MLB seasons, but we still have more than seven weeks left in the same season in which Kershaw’s perfect seven innings occurred. It sure seems like a long time ago, right?

As a reminder, Kershaw was making his 2022 debut as he returned from an elbow injury that kept him out of the 2021 playoffs. His outing was perfect, as he sat down all 21 batters he faced, but was eliminated after seven innings and 80 pitches. The second batter facing reliever Alex Vesia in the eighth singled to break things up. But the Dodgers still beat the Twins, 7-0.

Was a complicated situation that was discussed at length at the time.

Do you remember this? It’s another good illustration of how difficult the perfect game is. Medios faced 27 batters and allowed no hits or walks. He didn’t hit anyone with a pitch. His Orioles teammates didn’t make any mistakes. So what happened?

With one out in the bottom of the third inning, Means struck out the Mariners’ Sam Haggerty, but Orioles catcher Pedro Severino was unable to corner Means’ wild pitch. Haggerty reached first base as a result. He ended up getting caught stealing, keeping Means’ outing to a minimum of 27 batters.

At least it wasn’t late, right? With the perfect out of the way, the only drama of the final inning was whether Means would finish the game hitless, and he did so with a score of 6-0.

3. Carlos Rodon, April 14, 2021

Rodón pitched a no-hitter in this one and it’s a good example of how hard it is to be perfect over the course of nine innings. With one out in the ninth, the White Sox starter barely hit the leading edge of Cleveland slugger Roberto Perez’s foot.

Rodón then retired the last two batters for the 8-0 victory. That was it. He retired 27 of the 28 batters he faced and that one missed pitch, on a 0-2 count, is what cost him the perfect game.

Leake had a remarkable career. He was the rare player who skipped the minor leagues and went straight to the major leagues after being drafted. He played in parts of 10 seasons, making 296 career starts for him. He won 105 games. It was a good race. He also only had one career shutout of his before a mid-July start for the Mariners in what would be his final season in MLB. He made the best start of his career.

Leake recorded 24 outs through the 24 batters he faced against the Angels that day and, yes, both Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani were in the lineup. He took his perfect game to ninth. An eyed ground ball bled down the right side of the infield as Luis Rengifo had the perfect, hitless game. Leake then walked Kevan Smith before getting three outs to close out his 10-0 one-hit run.

5. Rays staff, July 14, 2019

I’ll put aside my general disdain for celebrating combined efforts as equal to individual efforts here. The official rules say that perfect combo games count, so let’s talk about the Rays effort in 2019.

Ryne Stanek opened things up with two perfect innings before handing over the keys to Ryan Yarbrough, the Rays’ assigned “length” guy for the day. Yarbrough himself was perfect for the next six innings. It was a perfect game going to ninth! The Orioles’ Hanser Alberto opened things up with a game-breaking single to right. The Rays would use a total of four pitchers and win 4-1.

6. Jorge Lopez, Sept. 8, 2018

Lopez is best known these days for being the All-Star closer that the wild-card contenders Orioles traded just before the deadline. But in September 2018, he was auditioning for a long-term major league starting role with the Royals. He didn’t stick. In fact, prior to this season, Lopez posted a 6.03 ERA in his MLB career.

He saw glory as a starter in this outing while flirting with baseball immortality. Lopez left 24 of 24 to sit the Twins down for eight innings. He walked Max Kepler to start the ninth and then singled to Robbie Grossman to end the no-hitter before being eliminated in the Royals’ 4-1 win.

7. Rich Hill, August 23, 2017

Aside from Kershaw’s brush with perfection (he said he wasn’t upset about being cut from the game) and, of course, the Rays’ team effort, it could be argued that everyone else on this list took a punch in the gut. . their respective outlets. And of all of them, this one feels like the biggest, although the matter is subjective.

Hill worked through 24 Pirates hitters without reaching base in the first eight innings. Jordy Mercer led off the ninth for the Pirates with what should have been a routine ground ball. However, Dodgers third baseman Logan Forsythe played poorly and the perfect game was over.

To rack up even more, Hill made it through the ninth inning without allowing a hit, but the visiting Dodgers hadn’t scored either. Hill came back out for the 10th and quickly gave up a walk-off home run to Josh Harrison on his 99th pitch of the contest. Hard, huh?

This all-time great has flirted with no-hitters and perfect games multiple times. He has 22 starts with at least eight innings and three or fewer hits allowed, for example. He has pitched two no-hitters. As such, it’s no surprise to see it on this list. In his final start of the 2015 season, he pitched a no-hitter and the only runner on base hit an error in the sixth inning.

That was his second no-no and second brush with perfection that year. On June 20, Scherzer retired the first 26 Pirates batters he faced. In fact, the Nationals pitcher was a strike away when this happened in Scherzer’s 2-2 offer to Jose Tabata…

Guy. Let’s go. Are you going to throw your armored elbow towards the ball to break up a perfect game? Weak things.

Scherzer retired the next batter to preserve the no-hitter and the Nats’ 6–0 win. He has never pitched a perfect game.

The veteran forward and long reliever made more than a few starts in his career. He made the most of his opportunity in this one. He was one of two career complete games of his and his only shutout.

Like almost everyone else here, Petit carried a perfect game into the ninth after going 24-for-24. He was seen to have a three-run lead, so the coast was clear for the perfect game. He would get a strikeout and a groundout before having to deal with veteran Eric Chavez as a pinch hitter for Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin. (No relievers were used in this, a true throwback game.)

Petit would get two strikes before Chavez, on a full count, broke him up with a line drive single. Giants right fielder Hunter Pence put up a valiant effort, but it was a legitimate single. Petit would get a ground ball on the next batter. So close.

In the first start of his second season in America, Darvish took the hill for the Rangers in Houston against a rebuilding Astros team that lost 107 games the year before and would lose 111 in 2013. Darvish dominated, striking out 14 while striking out. withdrawn. first 26 batters he faced. He was just one out away from a perfect game.

Do you remember this? Marwin González sent one back through the wickets. If Darvish had reacted a fraction of a second faster, he would have completed the perfect game.

It wasn’t going to be. Darvish has two career complete games of his own and one shutout. That was the closest he ever got to a no-hitter and he was just inches away from perfection.

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