Millions watched last night as Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish took a perfect game into the ninth inning. Spectators in Houston were on their feet as Darvish got Jason Castro to ground out for the first out. Fans cheered as Carlos Corporan was then retired for the second out. Everyone’s hearts were pumping in their chest. But then it happened. On the first pitch he saw, Houston Astros infielder Marwin Gonzalez hit a pitch up the middle for the first Houston hit of the game. The perfect game was over.
Toronto Blue Jays fans can relate with this feeling of your heart sinking in your chest in the ninth inning. In fact, on August 8, 2010 Brandon Morrow took a no-hitter into the ninth. Mirroring Darvish, Morrow retired the first two batters, only to have the third batter of the inning, Evan Longoria, get an infield single. Much like the Rangers did last night, the Blue Jays still won, defeating the Tampa Bay Rays, but it was still a tremendous disappointment for the fan base despite the win.
In addition, Roy Halladay’s second career start was synonymous with Darvish’s. On September 27, 1998, Halladay held the Detroit Tigers to no hits with just one out remaining in the game. Detroit Tigers outfielder Bobby Higginson had a 0-2 count when he hit a solo home run. It would be the only hit and run the Tigers would score as the Boys in Blue would win 2-1 during the last game of their season.
Morrow and Halladay, however, were not the sole Blue Jays ninth inning victims as Dave Stieb got robbed twice. Think that is bad enough? They were on back-to-back occasions! On September 24 and September 30, 1988, Stieb took back-to-back no hitters into the ninth. In fact, in both occasions, he was only one strike away.
The first one occurred on September 24, 1988 when the Blue Jays were in Cleveland. With two outs in the ninth, Indians number nine hitter, Julio Franco, broke up Dave Stieb's no-hit bid with a single right up the middle that mirrored Gonzalez’s last night. Stieb followed by retiring Dave Clark and securing his first one-hitter as the Blue Jays won 1-0.
His second occurred the following Friday, but this time home in Toronto. Stieb kept the Baltimore Orioles quiet until again, he was a strike away. This time, however, Jim Traber silenced the crowd at the SkyDome with a single off of a fly ball to short right field down the line. Joe Orsulak grounded out to second base to end the game as the Blue Jays won 4-0.
What was your most memorable ninth inning heart-sinking moment? Comment in the section below.