Connect with us


Nearly perfect games: Ranking the best attempts since King Felix

By Jordan Shusterman
FOX Sports MLB Writer

You come at the King, you best not miss.

One day earlier than the tenth anniversary of Felix Hernandez throwing MLB’s most up-to-date perfect recreation, Rays righty Drew Rasmussen discovered himself three outs away from his personal piece of historical past.

Just three outs. How laborious may or not it’s? Rasmussen, in the midst of a breakout season, had been carving up the Orioles all day, and now he simply wanted to get by way of 7-8-9. 

But quite than let Rasmussen get forward, as he had accomplished all afternoon, Jorge Mateo pounced. On the first pitch, he laced a double down the left-field line. 

Poof. Another try at the elusive twenty fourth perfecto in MLB historical past gone in a blink.

It was a well-recognized feeling, one baseball followers have grown all too used to. Even as offense has slowly gone down, with strikeouts skyrocketing over the previous decade, this one supreme pitching feat has continued to slide by way of the grasp of even the best arms in the league.

Ten years marks the longest drought between perfect games since 13 years handed between Catfish Hunter’s perfecto in 1968 and Len Barker’s in 1981 — and that’s after Felix’s was the third perfect recreation of the 2012 season, the most ever in a single season, following Phillip Humber and Dallas Braden.

A powerful perfect recreation bid is all about having it intact late in the recreation and never essentially the pitcher’s last line rating, irrespective of how dominant it was. For instance, John Means confronted the minimal 27 batters in his no-hitter against the Mariners last year. But with Sam Haggerty reaching first base on a dropped third strike in the third inning, a perfect recreation was out of the query pretty early. It was nonetheless a no-hitter — and a outstanding one at that — however the added weight of pursuing the perfecto was not on Means’ shoulders for many of the recreation.

The identical may be stated about Shelby Miller’s unimaginable begin in 2013, during which he allowed a leadoff single after which retired the subsequent 27 batters in a row for the first shutout of his career. That’s a tremendous outing, however he knew from the very first batter that he wasn’t going for perfect historical past.

In a perfect recreation bid, it’s all about the strain mounting as the recreation proceeds. We really feel it as followers watching, and there’s a motive one in every of the largest superstitions in baseball is gamers not speaking a couple of no-hitter or perfect recreation whereas it’s in progress. It’s much less a couple of jinx and extra about the feeling of fragility, particularly with perfect video games. 

It’s like standing close to a home of playing cards and attempting to not breathe too laborious. And as Rasmussen realized the laborious manner, it could come crashing down in the blink of an eye fixed, irrespective of how cautious you might be.

Interestingly, this perfect recreation drought additionally comes at a time when no-hitters appear as simple to come back by as ever. You’d assume not less than a kind of over the previous decade would have ended up a perfect recreation. The league even set a document for no-hitters in a single season with 9 in 2021.

It’s an added factor of what makes the perfect recreation drought so outstanding. Since Felix’s perfecto, there have been 39 (!) nine-inning no-hitters. Yet to additional underscore how particular a perfect recreation is, solely three of these no-no’s had been perfect by way of six innings. Throwing a perfect recreation is simply actually rattling laborious.

There have additionally been loads of perfect recreation bids that didn’t end in no-hitters. In reality, I discovered 58 situations of a perfect recreation intact by way of not less than six innings since Felix’s perfecto. Of these 58 efforts, solely 20 survived the seventh, and solely 9 made it by way of the eighth inning, together with Rasmussen on Sunday.

Mateo’s double was the eighth double to interrupt up a perfecto over the previous decade. The different dream-crushing moments: 33 singles, one homer (we’ll get to that!), seven walks, 4 HBPs and 5 errors. 

To have a good time — or maybe, commemorate — these fallen perfectos, right here’s a rating of these 58 failed pursuits of perfection, from the six-inning attempts you in all probability forgot about to the iconic shut calls that got here up simply brief. 

Great efforts by good pitchers (21)

58. Kendall Graveman (Athletics) vs. Rangers (Sept. 23, 2016): by way of 6 
57. Jeremy Hellickson (Nationals) vs. Padres (May 8, 2018): by way of 6 
56. Kyle Gibson (Phillies) vs. Nationals (Aug. 5, 2022): by way of 6 
55. Julio Teheran (Braves) vs. Phillies (Sept. 20, 2015): by way of 6 
54. Noah Syndergaard (Mets) vs. Padres (July 28, 2015): by way of 6 
53. Johnny Cueto (Giants) vs. Dodgers (March 30, 2018): by way of 6 
52. Blake Snell (Padres) vs. Angels (Sept. 7, 2021): by way of 6.1 
51. Jake Peavy (Giants) vs. Mets (Aug. 2, 2014): by way of 6.1 
50. Mike Minor (Rangers) vs. Padres (June 27, 2018): by way of 6.1 
49. Joe Ryan (Twins) vs. Guardians (Sept. 8, 2021): by way of 6.1 
48. Carlos Carrasco (Guardians) vs. Rays (July 1, 2015): by way of 6.1 
47. Chris Archer (Rays) vs. Tigers (July 29, 2015): by way of 6.1 
46. Jordan Zimmermann (Tigers) vs. Blue Jays (March 28, 2019): by way of 6.2 
45. Bartolo Colon (Mets) vs. Mariners (July 23, 2014): by way of 6.2 
44. Danny Duffy (Royals) vs. Orioles (May 17, 2014): by way of 6.2 
43. Hyun-Jin Ryu (Dodgers) vs. Reds (May 26, 2014): by way of 7 
42. Jameson Taillon (Yankees) vs. Angels (June 2, 2022): by way of 7 
41. Bartolo Colon (Rangers) vs. Astros (April 15, 2018): by way of 7 
40. Marco Estrada (Blue Jays) vs. Rays (June 24, 2015): by way of 7 
39. Jordan Lyles (Padres) vs. Rockies (May 15, 2018): by way of 7.1 
38. Homer Bailey (Reds) vs. Giants (July 2, 2013): by way of 6

These are perfect recreation bids which have largely been misplaced to historical past however nonetheless deserve their due. Bonus factors — and the highest rating — for Bailey, who was the just one on this batch to finish a no-hitter, and the second one in every of his profession at that. 

Incredible efforts by nameless pitchers (3)

37. Chad Bettis (Rockies) vs. Phillies (May 29, 2015): by way of 6
36. Miguel Gonzalez (White Sox) vs. Tigers (May 28, 2017): by way of 6
35. Cody Anderson (Guardians) vs. Rays (June 29, 2015): by way of 6.1

Since Felix’s perfecto, just one perfect recreation bid that obtained previous the sixth inning has been spoiled by a house run, with Grady Sizemore in his last season launching one to proper subject in opposition to Anderson and his former crew. 

Apparently Colby Lewis appreciated pitching in opposition to Oakland (2)

34. Colby Lewis (Rangers) vs. Athletics (Sept. 11, 2015): by way of 7
33. Colby Lewis (Rangers) vs. Athletics (June 16, 2016): by way of 7.2

Lewis had a very nice profession with the Rangers, however I actually was not anticipating his identify arising on this analysis, not to mention twice, not to mention in opposition to the identical crew simply 9 months aside. Good for him!

Inexplicably spectacular major-league debuts by Pirates pitchers in opposition to the Cardinals (2)

32. Nick Kingham (Pirates) vs. Cardinals (April 29, 2018): by way of 6.2
31. Max Kranick (Pirates) vs. Cardinals (June 27, 2021): by way of 5 

How bizarre is that this? Kranick was truly pulled from the recreation at simply 50 pitches as a result of there was an hour-long rain delay following the fifth inning, and the crew didn’t need to ship him again out after that lengthy of a layoff. Damn you, Midwest climate! What may have been?!

Duane Underwood Jr. got here on in reduction and stored the perfecto alive by way of the sixth earlier than yielding a leadoff double to Dylan Carlson in the seventh.

Never even obtained the likelihood (4)

30. Daniel Norris (Tigers) vs. White Sox (Sept. 22, 2015): by way of 5
29. Tanner Houck (Red Sox) vs. Nationals (Oct. 2, 2021): by way of 5
28. Blake Snell (Rays) vs. Blue Jays (Aug. 10, 2018): by way of 5
27. Rich Hill (Dodgers) vs. Marlins (Sept. 10, 2016): by way of 7 

Somewhat extremely, Kranick wasn’t the solely pitcher in the previous decade to be pulled with a perfect game intact, and none of the different situations had been rain-related. Snell (pulled at 47 pitches) and Norris (pulled at 63) had been on pitch counts after not too long ago coming off injured checklist stints, Houck was pulled so he didn’t have to hit in an NL park in a close game, and Hill had a blister that popped up during the game, and the Dodgers didn’t need it to worsen.

Sometimes extra than simply the opposing crew can get in the manner of a perfect recreation bid.

Combined nonsense (1)

26. Rays mixed vs. Orioles (July 14, 2019): by way of 8 

Rasmussen’s effort Sunday reminded us all that the Rays had truly accomplished this to the Orioles earlier than, albeit with two pitchers, Ryne Stanek and Ryan Yarbrough, in one in every of Tampa Bay’s quintessential, opener-to-bulk-guy pitching deployments. 

Let’s get this out of the manner: Perfect video games must be accomplished by one pitcher. But I additionally need everybody to just accept that with the manner groups use pitchers these days, a mixed perfecto is certain to occur in some unspecified time in the future. I don’t understand how I’m going to really feel about it when it does, however I refuse to let it take me abruptly. 

Good efforts by nice pitchers (15)

25. Aaron Nola (Phillies) vs. Padres (Aug. 21, 2021): by way of 6 
24. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) vs. Mets (July 23, 2015): by way of 6 
23. Max Scherzer (Nationals) vs. Brewers (June 14, 2015): by way of 6 
22. Jake Arrieta (Cubs) vs. Pirates (Sept. 27, 2015): by way of 6 
21. Corey Kluber (Guardians) vs. Royals (July 24, 2014): by way of 6.1 
20. Chris Sale (White Sox) vs. Angels (May 12, 2013): by way of 6.1 
19. Matt Harvey (Mets) vs. White Sox (May 7, 2013): by way of 6.2 
18. Yu Darvish (Rangers) vs. Red Sox (May 9, 2014): by way of 6.2 
17. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) vs. Angels (July 15, 2022): by way of 7 
16. Corbin Burnes (Brewers) vs. Guardians (Sept. 11, 2021): by way of 6 
15. Shohei Ohtani (Angels) vs. Athletics (April 8, 2018): by way of 6.1
14. Lucas Giolito (White Sox) vs. Athletics (Sept. 29, 2020): by way of 6 
13. Max Scherzer (Dodgers) vs. Padres (Sept. 12, 2021): by way of 7.1 
12. Madison Bumgarner (Giants) vs. Padres (Sept. 12, 2015): by way of 7.2 
11. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) vs. Rockies (June 19, 2014): by way of 6 

This is a who’s who of pitchers at the peak of their powers who made actual strides towards 27 up, 27 down over the previous decade. My favorites on this assortment embrace Ohtani, who went 6.1 perfect in his second profession MLB begin, Giolito as the lone postseason consultant on this whole checklist and Kershaw’s 15-strikeout efficiency in opposition to Colorado that in the end resulted in a no-hitter.  

Approaching historical past (4)

10. Triston McKenzie (Guardians) vs. Tigers (Aug. 15, 2021): by way of 7.2
9. Jorge Lopez (Royals) vs. Twins (Sept. 8, 2018): by way of 8
8. Mike Leake (Mariners) vs. Angels (July 19, 2019): by way of 8
7. Drew Rasmussen (Rays) vs. Orioles (Aug. 14, 2022): by way of 8

Imagine if McKenzie had completed the activity on the ninth anniversary of Felix’s perfect recreation! It was additionally an actual journey watching starter Jorge Lopez shut down Minnesota for eight complete innings — maybe the Twins remembered that after they traded for him earlier this month. 

Leake and Rasmussen every misplaced their bids to steer off the ninth, which was devastating by itself and even worse contemplating how staggeringly low their pitch counts had been; Rasmussen was at 79 and Leake was at 78 coming into the ninth. These two by no means even appeared like they had been sweating as they routinely despatched opposing hitter after opposing hitter again to the dugout. 

They doubtless had greater than sufficient gasoline in the tank to complete it the perfect recreation, however the baseball gods merely weren’t smiling down upon them fairly sufficient.

Never even obtained the likelihood, but it surely’s Clayton Kershaw (1)

6. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) vs. Twins (April 13, 2022): by way of 7

Look, should you baseball managers need to pull your younger pitchers with a perfect recreation to play it secure health- and workload-wise, superb. But this can be a future Hall of Famer we’re speaking about. I do know it’s 25 levels in Minnesota in April, and Kershaw’s obtained a foul again, however come on, Dave Roberts! Kershaw has already achieved all the things else there may be to perform on this sport — let the man go for glory!  

(I don’t know if I truly consider this, however hey, perfect video games can actually mess together with your logic and reasoning. That’s one in every of the many causes I’m not a baseball supervisor.) 

The heartbreakers (5)

5. Rich Hill (Dodgers) vs. Pirates (Aug. 23, 2017): by way of 8 

It’s one factor to lose a perfect recreation in the ninth on an error by your third baseman. But to then take a no-hitter into extras, solely to surrender a walk-off residence run? This sport is simply merciless generally. 

4. Yusmeiro Petit (Giants) vs. D-backs (Sept. 6, 2013): by way of 8.2

3. Carlos Rodon (White Sox) vs. Indians (April 14, 2021): by way of 8.1

2. Max Scherzer (Nationals) vs. Pirates (June 20, 2015): by way of 8.2

HBPs in the ninth to lose a perfect recreation? It hurts to even give it some thought. At least these two nonetheless obtained their no-hitters — or toe-hitter, in Rodon’s case — so their outstanding efforts weren’t fully for naught. 

1. Yu Darvish (Rangers) vs. Astros (April 2, 2013): by way of 8.2 

It is perhaps one thing of a scorching take to rank Darvish forward of Scherzer, however there’s something so painfully memorable about the ball going by way of Darvish’s legs, and I don’t assume I’ll ever shake it.  

While clearly a extra spectacular method to attain base than what Jose Tabata did vs. Scherzer, Marwin Gonzalez’s fundamental base-hit-up-the-middle extra completely encapsulates how tough it’s to get 27 consecutive MLB hitters out in the identical recreation — even when it’s peak Darvish dealing with the horrific 2013 Astros. I additionally recognize the incontrovertible fact that this occurred so quickly after Felix, and I bear in mind pondering, “Well, we’ll get one other perfecto right here quickly.”

Yet right here we’re, 10 years later, nonetheless ready. 

As this final group of near-misses demonstrates so clearly, the perfect recreation is a fickle beast. No matter how nasty the stuff will get, major-league hitters often discover a method to get on base not less than as soon as over the course of a nine-inning recreation.  

That stated, the twenty fourth perfect recreation will occur finally. I don’t know who will do it or what sorts of sorcery it can require, however I do know it can occur. 

But for now, the glow of Felix’s legendary efficiency continues to shine vivid as the final aim for a pitcher to attempt for. Here’s to a different decade of imperfect video games. 

Long dwell the King.

Jordan Shusterman is half of @CespedesBBQ and a baseball author for FOX Sports. He lives in D.C. however is a large Seattle Mariners fan and loves watching the KBO, which implies he does not get a variety of sleep. You can comply with him on Twitter @j_shusterman_.

Get extra from Major League Baseball Follow your favorites to get details about video games, information and extra.

Source link