In what has seemingly become an annual tradition, the no hit watch was on once again for Yu Darvish last night. Aided by a controversial ruling where David Ortiz‘s seventh inning popup which fell in was ruled an error instead of a base hit, Darvish found himself once again an out away from pitching a no hitter. Perhaps fittingly, given the dispute about whether or not that popup should have been ruled an error, Ortiz ended the bid with a ground ball that went through the shift for a base hit.
While this most recent no hit bid did not have the drama of his previous attempt, when Darvish was one out away from a perfect game against the Houston Astros last season, it still marked the second time that Darvish was unable to get that final out with a no hitter on the line. With that base hit, Darvish joined Dave Stieb and Bill Burns, who was better known for his part in the infamous Black Sox scandal in 1919, as the only pitchers to twice lose a no hitter with one out left.
Yu Darvish is the 3rd pitcher in MLB history to have 2 no-hitters broken up with 2 outs in the 9th.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 10, 2014
As Stieb could no doubt attest, there is an element of luck in being able to pitch a no hitter, never mind a perfect game. After all, he did lose four no hitters in the ninth inning before finally getting one in 1990. Also, much like Yu Darvish, Stieb was within one out of a perfect game, missing out when Roberto Kelly doubled down the left field line on an 0-2 pitch on August 4th, 1989.
Darvish had already been the subject of legend when he came over from Japan, being the first pitcher to start the first game of the Japan Series while under the age of 21 and dominating the Japanese League during his time there. Since coming over, Darvish has been just as dominant in the Major Leagues, improving each of his three seasons thus far. Having won a strikeout award, made two All-Star teams and finished second in the Cy Young award vote, a no hitter would seem to be the next piece to his legacy.
If there is a pitcher who has the stuff to throw a no hitter, one would think that Yu Darvish will be close to the to of that list. Yet, there is a lot of luck involved. Perhaps, in the future, he will finally get that elusive no hitter, much like Dave Stieb. Until then, he and Stieb will be linked in the heartbreaking fashions in which they lost their chances at history.