Yu were so close!
The Rangers' starter came within one out of pitching the earliest perfect game in MLB history, setting down 26 consecutive Astros hitters before allowing a hit to shortstop Marwin Gonzalez. Darvish racked up 14 strikeouts in the process. Had he finished the perfecto, that would have tied the record for most strikeouts in a perfect game, held by both Sandy Koufax and Matt Cain (also against the Astros, interestingly enough).
The Rangers bats gave Darvish plenty of support, scoring 7 against the Astros' pitching. He would only need one, however, with his brilliant performance.
The Astros only had one ball even leave the infield before Gonzalez's single up the middle with 2 outs in the 9th. It went right through Darvish's legs, but he never really had a chance to make a play on it.
Through 8 innings, Darvish had thrown 107 pitches, which is quite a bit for the first start of a season. Still, Ron Washington sent him out for the 9th, allowing him to chase history. Darvish was supremely economical in the 9th inning, needing only 3 pitches to make the first two outs, but it was his 111th pitch that ended his run at perfection.
Reliever Michael Kirkman came in an immediately gave up another hit to Jose Altuve, but was able to close the game out and preserve the shutout for the Rangers for a 7-0 win.
Congratulations to Yu Darvish on a hell of a performance. It wasn't perfect, but it was still pretty damn good.