By In Baseball

Just About Perfect

One of the great things about baseball is this: It has been around so long that almost everything has precedent. For instance, when Max Scherzer lost his perfect game with two outs in the ninth when he hit Pittsburgh’s Jose Tabata, I was SURE that was the first time that had happened. It HAD to be the first time an 8 2/3 inning perfect game was broken up with a hit-by-pitch, right?

Actually, no. It wasn’t the first time. The same thing happened in on Independence Day in 1908. That was a morning game involving a left-handed pitcher named Hooks Wiltse. Hooks was, according to the writer of the Newark Advocate, a “custodian of clever curves.” Hooks won 139 games in his Deadball Era big-league career.

Wiltse, like Scherzer, was perfect for 26 batters. Unlike Scherzer, however, Wiltse’s Giants were not leading the game. It was still 0-0 because Philadelphia’s George McQuillan was pitching a heck of a game on his own. This meant that the 27th batter of the game for the Phillies was George McQuillan himself.

Wiltse got two strikes on McQuillan and then, by just about all accounts, threw a pitch over the outside corner that should have been called strike three. One sportswriter would put it this way: “The third one, according to half a dozen men of cold, critical judgment, was as good a strike as ever whizzed over the corner of home plate. … Had it not been for the blindness or carelessness of a man named Rigler, who holds a position as umpire …”

Yes, Cy Rigler called it a ball. In later years, he would admit he made the wrong call — supposedly he once sent Hooks Wiltse a box of cigars as some sort of penance. With the next pitch, Wiltse hit McQuillan to end the perfect game.

Wiltse ended up throwing a 10-inning no-hitter but no-hitters were not all that rare in those days. One paper simply led its roundup with this: “New York defeated Philadelphia this morning in a ten inning contest by a score of 1 to 0. Wiltse was invincible and held the visitors without a hit.”

Had Wiltse thrown the perfect game, it would have been the first in the National League since 1880 and so would today be recognized as the first National League perfecto of the modern era.

Here, then are, the 13 almost perfect games, the ones lost with two outs in the ninth:

1. July 4, 1908: Hooks Wiltse loses perfecto when he hits opposing pitcher.

2. August 5, 1932: Detroit’s Tommy Bridges loses perfecto when Washington pinch-hitter Dave Harris knocks clean single to left.

— Remember what I said about everything in baseball having a precedent? Well, this is especially true of “unwritten rules” in baseball. As stupid as today’s unwritten rule might seem, there was always one more stupid.

In the aftermath of the Scherzer near-perfecto, there’s has been lot of talk about the sportsmanship of Pittsburgh’s Jose Tabata. Did he lean in and purposely get hit by the pitch? Did he try hard enough to get out of the way? Was it just a instant reaction? If he purposely got hit was that poor sportsmanship of just good hard baseball? Should the 27th batter in a potential perfect game be held up to higher ethical standards than the first 26? And so on.

Well get this: In 1932, Bridges had a perfect game going against Washington for 26 batters. The Tigers led 13-0 and Washington manager Walter Johnson sent up Harris for the pitcher and, as mentioned, he broke up the perfect game with a single. Clean, right?

No. In the aftermath, people griped that WALTER JOHNSON had displayed poor sportsmanship by sending up a pinch-hitter in the first place. “The crowd of 8,000 that had watched Bridges pitch a no-hit, no-walk, no-run game for eight and two thirds innings sat in tense silence, wondering at Johnson’s action when his team had no chance to win,” wrote the Associated Press. It was much discussed whether or not Johnson, long viewed as one of baseball’s great sportsman, had in fact done the wrong thing.

So, yeah, people kind of lose their minds a little bit when it comes to perfect games.

3. June 27, 1958: Chicago’s Billy Pierce gives up a double to Washington pinch hitter Ed FitzGerald.

— In many ways, this was the first missed perfect game because, by 1958, the IDEA of a perfect game had taken flight. The first two were more like curiosities. Pierce’s near-miss was national news. He was trying to become the first lefty of the modern era to throw a perfect game.

He had been pitching brilliantly coming in — this was his third consecutive shutout — and he was untouchable for the first 8 2/3 innings. Then FitzGerald was sent up as a pinch hitter for pitcher Russ Kemmerer. Pierce’s catcher, Sherm Lollar, thought FitzGerald would be looking first-pitch fastball so he called for the curve, and he would say it was a sharp one. FitzGerald laced it down the right field line for a double, all while the Chicago crowd booed.

“I was sent up to pinch-hit, wasn’t I?” FitzGerald said when asked about the boos. “I went up there to hit. That’s my job.”

4. September 2, 1972: Chicago Cubs’ Milt Pappas walks San Diego pinch-hitter Larry Stahl on borderline pitch. Papps finished with a no-hitter.

— Here’s something I did not know about the very famous Milt Pappas near-perfect game: In the moments after it happened, he was not visibly unhappy at all. Quite the opposite. This is weird because, as you probably know, Pappas has never forgiven umpire Bruce Froemming for the Larry Stahl walk. He is convinced — utterly convinced — that he threw three strikes in that at-bat that were called balls.

He has held on to his anger all these year. Even 30 years later, he was STILL looking for an apology. When Jim Joyce blew the final call in the Armando Galarraga near-perfecto, Pappas griped: “At least the umpire had the guts to say he was wrong.”

So I assumed that Pappas has ALWAYS felt that way. But that’s not true at all. His opinion has hardened over the years. In the moments after his game, he was just so thrilled about throwing a no-hitter that the perfect game was almost forgotten. “Those pitches to Stahl weren’t that far off,” he told reporters. “And I was hoping (Froemming) would sympathize with me and give me a call. But they were balls, no question about it.”

See that? “They were balls, no question about it.” Was Pappas simply being a good sport then? Maybe. But his catcher, Randy Hundley also thought the pitches were balls, though he did add: “They were so close I don’t see how (Stahl) could stand there and take them.”

It was Pappas’ teammate Ron Santo who, in the aftermath, seemed most unhappy by Froemming’s calls. He told Pappas that it was the first time he’d ever felt let down by a no hitter because it should have been a perfect game.

“I know Ronnie,” Pappas said. “But I’ll take the no-hitter.”

5. April 15, 1983: Detroit’s Milt Wilcox gives up single to pinch-hitter Chicago’s Jerry Hairston.

— What are the odds that two pitchers named Milt would lose perfect games with two outs in the ninth inning to pinch-hitters whose names rhyme with Gary?*

*A little Parks and Recreation reference there.

Wilcox handled his near-miss with the dignity and humor that marked his career. He was born in Hawaii, and he was a a solid pitcher for many years, through injuries and quirks of all sorts. He was a close teammate of Mark Fidrych. He was the scheduled pitcher on Disco Demolition Night in Chicago. He  insisted on making every start in the Tigers’ magical 1984 season (and he did, though it required SEVEN cortisone shots). He won 119 games in his career.

The near-perfect-game was a cold night in Chicago, and when Hairston came to the plate he felt a significant burden. “Our pride was at stake because we’re considered the best-hitting team in the league,” Hairston said. He looked first-pitch fastball, got it, and he lined it up the middle for a single.

“I was disappointed, yes,” Wilcox told reporters. “If you pitch a perfect game, you go into the Hall of Fame. That’s the only way I’ll get there.”

6. May 2, 1988: Cincinnati’s Ron Robinson gives up a single to Montreal pinch hitter Wallace Johnson.

Do you know who the Reds manager was the day Ron Robinson came within a strike of a no-hitter? You’re guess should be Pete Rose, but it was actually Tommy Helms replacing Rose, who was at home because of arthroscopic surgery on his knee. I don’t know how many managers have missed games because of in-season knee surgery, but that’s Pete. That was also the day Rose was suspended for thirty days for bumping and pushing umpire Dave Pallone, though he appealed. It’s easy to forget just how much trouble Pete could get into.

Robinson gave up a sinking line drive to Wallace Johnson and was so deflated he promptly gave up a home run to Tim Raines to lose the shutout. That was a pretty big deal — Robinson had never thrown a shutout. In fact, up to that point he’d only thrown one complete game in his career — a seven-hitter as a rookie.

7. August 4, 1989: Toronto’s Dave Stieb gives up a double to New York’s Roberto Kelly.

— Stieb had enough near-misses in his career that in the Associated Press lead for this one, he was called “Baseball’s Heartbreak Hurler.” In September 1988, he lost back-to-back no-hitters with two outs in the ninth inning.

That was a crazy year, 1989: FIVE different pitchers had perfect games ruined in the ninth inning. But only Stieb lost it with two outs. He did it in front of what was then the largest crowd in Toronto baseball history, 48,789. It was probably the bet game he ever pitched; he had no issues at all with the first 26 batters. In the ninth, he breezed through pinch-hitters Hal Morris and Ken Phelps. Then he fell behind 2-0 to Kelly and had to throw a strike. Kelly ripped the pitch into the left field gap.

“Good pitch,” Stieb determined afterward. “But he got around on it.”

Stieb’s career is often summed up by the word almost. He was ALMOST a Hall of Famer. He ALMOST won 20. He ALMOST won a Cy Young.

“If I haven’t gotten a no-hitter after three times,” he said with a sad smile on his face. “I doubt if I ever will.”

He did get his no-hitter the very next year.*

*Thank you to Brilliant Reader Matthew for pointing this out; I had forgotten that Stieb finally threw his no-hitter in 1990.

8. April 20, 1990: Seattle’s Brian Holman gives up a home run to Oakland’s Ken Phelps.

Here was the first time a near-perfect game was broken up with a home run … and it happened just as you might imagine. An extremely nervous Holman fully understood the history that was staring him in the face. He was 25 years old and had come to Seattle from Montreal as the second player in a trade for star Mark Langston. The first player in the trade was a gawky left-handed pitcher named, let’s see if I can spell this right: Randy Johnson.

So he was trying to make a name for himself, and he he was beyond nervous. “I told myself ‘This is the last man,'” he would explain to reporters. “I wanted to throw a fastball over the plate to get ahead of the count.”

Unfortunately, he was facing a one-time Seattle legend named Ken Phelps who knew EXACTLY what to do with nervous fastballs. Catcher Dave Valle knew Phelps tendencies as well as anyone and so he called for the ball up; Phelps never did like hitting pitches up in the strike zone. Holman threw it up in the zone. Phelps blasted it into the right field bleachers anyway. “He hit the you-know-what out of it,” Holman said.

“What’s Digger doing hitting a high pitch?” Valle asked afterward.

Holman said it actually felt better to lose the perfect game that way rather than giving up a bloop single or something like that. He had challenged the hitters to the end. And Phelps got him.

“I don’t feel like a villain,” Phelps said. “I was glad I broke it up. I didn’t want that monkey on my back.”

9. September 2, 2001: New York’s Mike Mussina gives up a single to Boston pinch-hitter Carl Everett.

— Mussina came within one strike of throwing the first perfect game ever at Fenway Park. He got Everett behind 0-2 and then gave up exactly what Brian Holman had feared — a bloop liner to left-center for a single. Mussina, like Stieb, had flirted with perfection before; it was the third time in his career he’d take a perfect game into at least the eighth inning.

I often wonder if it is small ripples in sports that, over time, make the difference in how things are remembered. For instance, I sometimes think that had Alan Trammell won the MVP award in 1987 (as he certainly deserved to do) his Hall of Fame case would have been taken much more seriously. I sometimes think that if Fred McGriff had hit just seven more home runs in his career — that would have given him 500 — he’d be in the Hall of Fame.

And I can’t help but wonder if Mussina would be getting more Hall of Fame consideration had he gotten Everett out to complete the perfecto. A perfect game alone is certainly not enough to make someone a Hall of Famer (though Don Larsen’s perfect game in the World Series got him a lot of Hall of Fame votes over the years). But added in with Mussina’s already superb Hall of Fame credentials … I just wonder if a perfect game might have altered the way Mussina is viewed. Mussina’s career, like Stieb’s, has this “almost” quality to it. He never won a Cy Young (but finished Top 5 six times). He never won a World Series. He never started in an All-Star Game. There’s just this vibe among many that Mussina was a good but not great pitcher — a vibe I strongly disagree with.

I wonder if throwing a perfect game at Fenway against the Boston Red Sox would have changed that vibe.

10. June 2, 2010: Detroit’s Armando Galarraga gives up a “single” to Cleveland’s Jason Donald on a missed call by Jim Joyce.

The Imperfect Game

11. April 2, 2013: Texas’ Yu Darvish gives up a ground ball single to Houston’s Marwin Gonzalez.

It does seem that a lot of these perfect games are broken up on the first pitch of an at-bat. In this case, Gonzalez hit the first pitch right between the legs of Darvish and through the middle for the hit.

Darvish wasn’t particularly upset … or, seemingly, upset at all. It was his first start of the year and, to be honest, he seemed kind of annoyed that he had to throw 110 pitches in his first start just for some silly perfect game. When asked what he thought after the hit, he said, “I can now go back to the dugout.”

And, indeed, he was immediately taken out of the game, the first near-perfecto pitcher to not face the next batter. Darvish said, “I think it meant more to my teammates than it did to me.”

Perfect games simply don’t mean the same thing in Japanese baseball as they do in America. I’ve written a lot about this before, but I was at the Japan Series in 2007 when Daisuke Yamai threw eight perfect innings against Trey Hillman’s Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. This was the clinching game —  it’s hard to even describe what American Twitter would be doing if pitcher had a perfect game going to clinch the World Series.

But in Japan, it meant so little that manager Hiromitsu Ochiai yanked his starter after eight and put in closer Hitoki Iwase, who did throw a perfect ninth to complete the combo-perfecto. There were a couple of questions to Hiromitsu about the move, but he simply said that he wanted to win the game, first and foremost, and this was widely accepted.

12. September 6, 2013: San Francisco’s Yusmeiro Petit gives up line drive single to Arizona’s Eric Chavez.

Petit got two strikes on Chavez. Then Chavez’s liner to right dropped a foot or two in front of diving right fielder Hunter Pence. As manager Bruce Bochy would say afterward, it just doesn’t get much closer than that. Pence would say that with the ball in the air, he felt like he was in one of those dreams where you are moving your feet as fast as you can but you’re just not going anywhere.

“I wasn’t trying to break his heart,” Chavez said. “I was trying to break it up.”

13. June 20, 2015: Washington’s Max Scherzer hits Pittsburgh’s Jose Tabata in the elbow with a pitch.

A Nationals fan asks: Did Max Scherzer just pitch the greatest back-to-back starts in baseball history?

Well, let’s look a little more closely. The general standard for back-to-back starts is Johnny VanDer Meer’s consecutive no-hitters in 1938. Against the Boston Bees on June 11, he did not allow a hit, struck out four and walked three. Four days later, in the first night game ever at Ebbets Field, he struck out seven but walked eight in the second no-hitter.

That’s legendary, of course. But I think, realistically, you can’t make a serious argument for those being the best back-to-back games ever pitched. Not with 11 walks. He obviously pitched very well, but he also got a lot of good defense behind him, and the lights played a big role and so on, but I think Scherzer’s back-to-back performance — 18 innings, one hit, 26 strikeouts, one walk — leaves Vander Meer behind.

So is there anyone else? Well, let’s go with game score, that fun Bill James invention that uses innings, strikeouts, walks, hits and runs to give pitcher a score. A game score of 50 is average, a game score of 100 is otherworldly.

Since 1914, only two pitchers have had game scores of 95 or better in consecutive starts. The first was R.A. Dickey in 2012. Against Tampa Bay on June 13, Dickey allowed just one hit, one unearned run, he struck out 12 without walking a batter. That was a game score of 95. He was even better five days later against Baltimore, again allowing just one hit, along with two walks. He struck out 13 for a game score of 96.

Yyou would have to say that Scherzer was even better than that. He threw a complete game against Milwaukee, allowed that one late hit, struck out 16 and walked just one. That was the magical 100 game score. Then, Saturday, when he came without an elbow of a perfect game, he  did not allow a hit or a walk and he struck out 10.

Incredible. Let’s break it down: In baseball history there have only been 12 games where a pitcher has gone nine innings and put up a 100 Game Score. Here is how they followed those games:

Kerry Wood, 1998, 105 game score (1 hit, 20 Ks, 0 walks)
Next start: 75 game score (7 innings, 5 hits, 13 Ks,)

Clayton Kershaw, 2014, 102 game score (0 hits, 15 Ks, 0 walks)
Next start: 72 game score (8 innings, 6 hits, 8 Ks)

Matt Cain, 2012, 101 game score (0 hits, 14 Ks, 0 walks, PERFECT GAME)
Next start: 43 game score (5 innings, 3 runs)

Nolan Ryan, 1991, 101 game score (0 hits, 16 Ks, 2 walks)
Next start: 57 game score (6 innings, 3 runs)

Sandy Koufax, 1965, 101 game score (0 hits, 15 Ks, 0 walks, PERFECT GAME)
Next start: 59 game score (6 innings, 5 hits)

Brandon Morrow, 2010, 100 game score (1 hit, 17 Ks, 2 walks)
Next start: 45 game score (4 innings)

Randy Johnson, 2004, 100 game score (0 hits, 13 Ks, 0 walks, PERFECT GAME)
Next start: 65 game score (7 innings, 2 runs)

Curt Schilling, 2002, 100 game score (1 hit, 17 Ks, 2 walks)
Next start: 52 game score (7 innings, 3 runs)

Nolan Ryan, 1973, 100 game score (0 hits, 17 Ks, 4 walks)
Next start: 87 (10.1 innings, 3 hits, 2 runs, 13 Ks, 5 walks)

Nolan Ryan, 1972, 100 game score (1 hits, 16 Ks, 1 walk)
Next start: 45 game score (9 innings, 7 runs)

Max Scherzer, 2015, 100 game score (1 hit, 1 walk, 16 Ks)
Next start: 97 game score (9 innings, 0 hits, 0 walks, 10 Ks)

The only pitcher who was even reasonably close in his 100 game score follow up was  Nolan Ryan’s in 1973. But realistically, no one else can really match up. I do think Scherzer’s back-to-back starts are indeed the best in baseball history.

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53 Responses to Just About Perfect

  1. Matthew E says:

    Stieb did in fact get a no-hitter. In 1990, against Cleveland.

  2. Cuban X Senators says:

    Believe in the Petit write up you mean another BB manager.

    And while we’re in SF, I always like what Jon Miller points out – that a perfect game is a team achievement, otherwise those near misses that included only an error would be more impressive pitching performances.

    • Marvin Zeman says:

      The Kershaw no-hitter would have been a perfect game if Hanley Ramirez didn’t make an error. The game score for Kershaw’s game was 102, one more than Koufax’s Perfect game even though they both struck out 15 men

  3. Dr. Doom says:

    I’m inclined to agree. The only thing I’m thinking is that we MIGHT find a more impressive set of back-to-back starts if we could take era, opponents, and park into it. It’s POSSIBLE (not likely, but certainly possible) that someone, say, in 1930 (high-scoring era but with fewer expected strikeouts, which means lower game scores overall) had back-to-back game scores in the high-80s against great opponents in a high run park. If we adjusted game score for those things, a pair of starts like that MIGHT be considered better than Scherzer’s.

  4. Samantha says:

    What about the games before each 100 game score?

    • Robert says:

      Exactly what I was wondering

    • Doug says:

      Running through it on BR really quick, and Scherzer’s pair is still pretty unparalleled even taking that into account – no one even comes close. Of course it’s still possible that somebody threw something like a pair of 99s, but that seems unlikely.

      For reference, the Game Scores in games preceding 100 GS games:

      Kerry Wood – 30
      Clayton Kershaw – 63
      Matt Cain – 65
      Nolan Ryan (1991) – 54
      Nolan Ryan (1972) – 83
      Nolan Ryan (1973) – 37
      Sandy Koufax – 63
      Brandon Morrow – 41
      Randy Johnson – 72
      Curt Schilling – 74

  5. Steve says:

    Mussina would probably be in the HOF if he threw one more strike to Everette and if Mariano did give up the game winning hit in the 2001 series.

  6. jalabar says:

    Samantha has a point: Cumulative game score for two games could mean a 95 or so, followed by a 100. So you would have to look at both the starts preceding AND following the 100 game score.

    But considering that we know for a fact that the best score they could have had was a 94 (as Joe pointed out, only RA Dickey matched Scherzer with consecutive starts of 95 or higher), it’s doubtful that Kerry Wood preceded his 105 with a 92+ (minimum to match Scherzer), and no one else had a high enough best score to reach Scherzer 197 with a 94, Kershaw at 196 would be the best possible contender other than Wood.

    And Scherzer’s season-to-date numbers are nearly as remarkable.

    1.76 ERA, tops in majors
    0.80 WHiP, tops in majors
    7.33 IP per start, tops in majors
    123 Ks, tops in majors
    .181 OBA, tops in majors
    .216 OOBP, tops in majors (by a lot, Sale .249)
    .490 OOPS, tops in majors
    14.16 pitches per inning, lowest in majors
    and this number, which is truly disturbing…
    8.79 K/BB ratio, tops in baseball AND ridiculous.

    He will basically strike out your entire batting order before he walks someone.

  7. Trent Phloog says:

    It seems like Joe is only counting game scores of 100 compiled in 9 innings, but as pointed out by Bill James in his Hey Bill! column (

    “Dean Chance on June 2, 1964, pitched a 2-hit shutout, striking out 15, Game Score 94, and followed that up with 14 shutout innings against the Yankees, 3 hits, 12 strikeouts, Game Score 116… the Game Score of 210 for two consecutive starts is the highest ever.”

    Obviously neither game was a no-hitter or perfecto, but if we’re talking Game Score that seems like a clear winner.

  8. Dr. Doom says:

    One more thought:

    It occurs to me that, while these guys all lost a perfecto after 8.2, there are two guys to lose it LATER than that. I assume everyone knows that, but it’s worth posting, just in case:

    Pedro Martinez:

    Harvey Haddix:

  9. Grinder says:

    Shocked to not see Chris Sales name in that mix…but I suspect he won’t be too far behind…thanks for another great article Joe

  10. invitro says:

    Phelps’ HR was the last one of his career.

    • bepd50 says:

      wow! thats an amazing piece of trivia.

    • Having 123 HR or more, top 20 HR/AB (via fangraphs):

      McGwire, Ruth, Bonds, Thome, Keiner, Killebrew, Stanton, Sosa, T. Williams, R. Howard, Manny, Dunn, ARod, KEN PHELPS, J. Gonzalez, Kingman, Mantle, R. Branyar, Pujols, Foxx.

      Top 10 HR/RBI:
      Branyar, McGwire, Dunn, PHELPS, Stanton, R. Deer, R. Kittle, Bonds, s. Balboni, Sosa.

      Such an amazing and singular career!

  11. DJ MC says:

    One of my favorite games I’ve ever been to was May 30, 1997, when Mike Mussina was perfect against Cleveland (and damn I hated those 1997 Indians, especially in five more months) for 8 1/3 innings. Sandy Alomar Jr. then hit a double to left field that landed directly out from where I was sitting in the front row (still the closest seats I’ve ever had at a ballgame).

    Sometimes the near-misses can be just as memorable as the real thing.

  12. For what it’s worth, Rigler and Froemming both were considered great umpires. Rigler was in the National League for almost 30 years. Froemming passed Bill Klem for most years and crossed the 5,000-game threshold, although many were critical of him in his later years. But I THINK it was Froemming who was asked about blowing his chance to be known as the umpire who worked the plate in a perfect game, and he asked the sportswriter who had been the plate umpire in the most recent perfect game before Pappas came close. The sportswriter said he had no idea. Froemming said that’s the point.

    By the way, the correct answer to Froemming’s question was Jerry Neudecker, who was the last American League umpire to wear the outside chest protector when he retired after the 1985 season.

  13. bob magee says:

    Jerry Reuss pitched 1hitter where leadoff batter was only hit. next 27 batters were retired.

    no hitter he threw featured a 1st inning error as only base runner

    • tayloraj42 says:

      In the same vein, how many other games featured the ‘inverse’ of the near-perfecto: the first batter reached, followed by the pitcher retiring the next 27?

      Obviously, there’s the famous Ernie Shore Game in 1917, but are there others? Is this as common as the 8 2/3rds breakup?

  14. invitro says:

    Here is what I think might be an enjoyable puzzle for some of you. The following games (and one doubleheader) had something happen which was UNIQUE in baseball history*. Your job: discover what it was by looking at the box score. (It’s mostly not a hard puzzle.)

    Starting with what I think is the easiest one, as it’s well-known:
    1. April 23, 1999: Cardinals 12, Dodgers 5

    2. August 27, 1977: Rangers 8, Yankees 2

    3. June 27, 1986: Giants 7, Reds 6 (12 innings)

    4. July 17, 1990: Red Sox 1, Twins 0

    5. May 2, 2002: Mariners 15, White Sox 4

    6. September 2, 2006: Indians 6, Rangers 5
    (This one needs a bit of info which is not in the box score.)

    7. Also on September 2, 2006: Mariners 4, Devil Rays 3

    8. June 25, 1976: Rangers 8, White Sox 4 and Rangers 14, White Sox 9
    (This one seems hard. Hint: it’s the only time something has happened in both games of a doubleheader.)

    * as of June 9, 2009, as reported on this page, which has the answers:

  15. Jeff A. says:

    That Galarraga game was already 5 years ago? Eeesh. That’s still the only thing that ever comes to mind when I see Jim Joyce umping a game.

  16. Stephen says:

    Is there a reason why hit batters don’t count against the pitcher where game scores are concerned?

  17. Pete Ridges says:

    Thirteen near-misses, 23 perfect games, and two games that were perfect until extra innings (Harvey Haddix, Pedro Martinez). That means that Batter 27 has an on-base percentage of 13/38 = .342 , which is not far from a typical OBP. I’m not sure if that is what people would expect.

  18. michibob says:

    First of all, thanks as always for your excellent and thorough posts.

    Second, I can’t for the life of me figure out how you can make these long posts with the schedule you have. When I saw your entry for your radio interviews for your book I figured it would be about 2 weeks before your next post. But nope, here are 2 more in 3 days. Thanks as always Joe, it’s one of the few websites I troll daily.

    And as a Tigers fan I think in general we’ve come to terms with Jim Joyce somewhat, because in the aftermath he was clearly torn up about it and abased himself publicly. But Jerry Hairston will always be Jerry @#$%^&^%$ Hairston

    • Richard says:

      And when Armando Galarraga isn’t going to show any signs of being upset with Jim Joyce (he pretty much just shrugged his shoulders and got the next batter on an easy groundout), why should any of us get angry?

  19. B.g. Levy says:

    Maybe this was a typo, but Jerry Hairston would not have broken up a a perfect game in 1983 as he was born in 1976.

    • MCD says:

      Jerry Hairston, Jr was born in 1976. Jerry Hairston, Sr (born 1952) was the batter who broke up Wilcox’s perfect game.

  20. MikeN says:

    Looking at previous games doesn’t change things, if anything it is a bit worse.
    Nolan Ryan had an 83 in 1972, but a 37 in 1973. Schilling had 74, Cain jumped to 65,
    and Randy Johnson and Kerry Wood had roughly the same good starts.

    Pedro twice had back to back starts of 32 strikeouts. Prior to his 98 @ Baltimore, he had a complete game loss with one run.

  21. Wilbur says:

    Joe, I distinctly remember watching the Pappas near-miss pefecto on a 1972 Sunday afternoon on WGN.

    Pappas went absolutely ballistic on the mound at the plate umpire after the ball four call on a 3-2 count, so much so that I remember thinking under any other circumstance Pappas would’ve been immediately ejected. Froehmming had the sense not to do so.

    For some reason, the WGN director, Arne Harris, chose to show the pitch in question from the press box camera high above the scene, so you really couldn’t see the pitch at all from that view.

    The last out was a pop-up to Carmen Fanzone, playing out of position at second base that game.

  22. Had Holmes gotten Phelps out, Langston would’ve been the only guy in history to be traded for two future owners of perfectos. I wonder what would Langston be rooting as the outcome of this game.

  23. Fidrych. You’re a great writer, but your sloppiness impedes your credibility.

    • vlock1 says:

      Joe gives us thousands and thousands and thousands of well-reasoned words for free. The occasional typo is par for the course.

  24. steph says:

    What is the record for consecutive outs? Obviously 27 in a typical perfecto, but I would be curious if anyone ever got to 54 (18 perfect innings/two games worth) They would need to combine a perfect game with two other starts in which they ended the last few innings perfectly, then threw a perfecto, then started the next game with several perfect innings, making a total of 18 consecutive perfect innings. I don’t know how to run these numbers but if Joe’s theory holds true, then it has probably happened twice.

    I would also be curious if any relievers ever strung together 27 consecutive outs, making them a perfect closer. Anybody with skills and time to figure this out?

    • I don’t have the data to look at earlier time periods, but for the years 1955-2013, I’ve got Mark Buehrle at 45. Bobby Janks and Jim Barr(!) at 41. The Jim Barr games were August 23 (retired the last 21) and August 29, 1972 (retired the first 20). I’m not making a distinction between starting and relief roles, but I can see Koji Uehara had a streak of 37, which had to have been in relief. Eckersley had a streak of 34 — in 1977.

      • steph says:

        Well I have to say I am disappointed nobody ever strung together 18 perfect innings, but not surprised at all. Thanks for the research 521!

    • dshorwich says:

      Yusmeiro Petit set the record for consecutive outs last year, with 46, breaking Mark Buehrle’s record of 45.

  25. A note on Pete Rose and Dave Pallone. Rose got into a lot of trouble, but in his defense, Pallone was the worst umpire I have ever seen. A scab umpire who never belonged to the union, reviled by his co-workers, Pallone got into feuds with players and managers throughout the NL League, not just Rose (he once ejected an entire team, save for the starting 9). In a game against the Mets, Pallone made a delayed safe call at first base that allowed the runner at third to come around to score the winning run. Rose was livid, and when Pallone made some goading gestures (Rose maintains Pallone poked him in the face), Rose snapped and shoved Pallone. The next day, Pallone got his revenge, calling a 9th inning game-winning balk against the Reds while their pitcher was issuing an intentional walk (Pallone claimed that the pitcher never came to a full stop). Pallone was forced to resign later that year due to allegations of incompetence, gambling debts, and participation in a teenaged gay sex ring. Pallone came out of the closet shortly thereafter, and to his credit, has served as a diversity trainer ever since, but during his 10 years in the Major Leagues, he was a total disaster.

  26. MikeN says:

    Joe, what do you think of MLB’s adjustment of the AllStar vote totals because they don’t look right? Threw out 65 million votes,

  27. Mike says:

    Pedro got pretty close in September 1999:

    Sep 4 – 8IP, 2H, 3BB, 15K, 0ER – 90 Game Score
    Sep 10 – 9IP, 1H, 0BB, 17K 1ER – 98 Game Score

    That game on the tenth, in Yankee Stadium against a stacked NY team is the best game I’ve ever watched. Wonder why that was higher than 98. Is it because Chilli Davis’ closed eye HR?

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