ARLINGTON, TEXAS – Yu Darvish came oh, so close again.
The Rangers ace fell one out shy of a no-hitter for the second time Friday night, giving up a ninth-inning single to David Ortiz in the Texas Rangers’ 8-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox.
“This is the second time I experienced this, but if I keep pitching like this, someday I’ll get it,” Darvish said through his translator. “Someday, I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and I’ll probably have another record of almost a no-hitter.”
Rookie second baseman Rougned Odor, positioned in shallow right field, made a diving attempt at Ortiz’s hit but the ball was out of his reach. If the Rangers had not shifted their infield toward the right side of the diamond — a standard practice against the pull-happy Ortiz — it probably would have been a routine grounder to second.
Darvish lost a perfect-game bid with two outs in the ninth inning last season against Houston. This time, he bent his knees and put his glove on his hips after the base hit. Texas manager Ron Washington then made a slow walk to the mound, with the 45,392 in attendance cheering and chanting “Yuuuuuu!”
Darvish (3-1) struck out 12 and walked two on 126 pitches.
“He was on his game early,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “That combination of being powerful and the secondary pitches and the assortment of them ends up being a night like tonight.”
The 20-year-old Odor, playing his second major league game, and Ortiz were also involved in the play that ended Darvish’s try for a perfect game.
Darvish struck out eight of the first 11 batters he faced and retired 20 in a row until Ortiz hit a high popup to right field with two outs in the seventh.
Odor was also shifted into shallow right then and drifted back for the ball while right fielder Alex Rios came in before suddenly stopping. Odor lunged with his glove extended above his head but the ball dropped between them.
“As soon as he hit it, I thought it was going to be a hit,” Darvish said. “Obviously I was a little bit disappointed, but I was already ready to give up a hit, so it didn’t really matter.”
An error was charged to Rios after official scorer Steve Weller looked at replays and conferred with several others because of the significance of the play.
“I should have taken control of that ball,” Rios said. “We were camped under the ball, so it can be called an error.”
Weller, in his 20th season as a scorer, told a pool reporter after the game that it was a judgment call and “I felt like the second baseman or right fielder under normal effort could’ve clearly caught the ball.”
Asked if he had spoken to Darvish, Rios said, “I just told him that I should have caught it. That’s the only thing I said.”
Darvish crouched down when the ball hit the ground. Former Rangers catcher Mike Napoli then drew a walk before Grady Sizemore’s inning-ending flyout.
Once Ortiz got his hit in the ninth, he thought he should have been credited with a hit in the seventh as well.
“Guy’s throwing a no-hitter. We all understand that. But when it comes down to the rules in the game, that’s a hit,” Ortiz said. “That’s the rule that we all know, and that’s the rule that the game (has had) for more than 100 years. The ball in the outfield drops in between infield and outfield, nobody touched it. . . . So I guess it’s going to be two (hits) now.”
Ortiz said he would have been OK with the error “if the guy’s throwing a no-hitter.”
Angels 4, Blue Jays 3
In Toronto, Raul Ibanez hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the ninth inning for Los Angeles.
Erick Aybar had three hits and scored twice, including the decisive run in the ninth, as the Angels won for the eighth time in nine meetings with the Blue Jays and halted Toronto’s season-long winning streak at five games.
Twins 2, Tigers 1
In Detroit, Phil Hughes pitched seven scoreless innings, and the Twins beat Tigers ace Justin Verlander for the first time in over four years.
Verlander allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings. He struck out five and walked two.
Orioles 4, Astros 3
In Baltimore, Steve Pearce and Manny Machado homered, and the Orioles won their season-high fourth consecutive game.
Indians 6, Rays 3
In St. Petersburg, Florida, Mike Aviles hit a three-run homer during a five-run seventh inning.
Royals 6, Mariners 1
In Seattle, Jason Vargas pitched seven scoreless innings and Kansas City had 16 singles.
Norichika Aoki went 2-for-4 for the Royals.
White Sox 9, Diamondbacks 3
In Chicago, Alexei Ramirez hit a grand slam in a seven-run fourth.
Athletics 8, Nationals 0
In Oakland, the A’s’ Tommy Milone tossed eight innings of two-hit ball.