Overweight and often controversial, David Wells hardly fit anyone’s ideal of perfection, as he himself would later concede with the title of his autobiography. Nonetheless, on May 17, 1998 — 15 years ago on Friday — while pitching for the Yankees, Wells reached the pinnacle of his 21-year major league career by retiring all 27 Twins he faced, completing the 15th perfect game in major league history.
Jason Heyward will become the latest big-name player to return from the disabled list — joining Curtis Granderson, Zack Greinke and Coco Crisp — when he returns to the Braves lineup on Friday. Several more key players will follow in the next few days, including Reds ace Johnny Cueto and Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey, and still others should be back by the end of next week.
The pitching matchup of Justin Verlander and Yu Darvish made Thursday night’s contest between the Tigers and Rangers in Arlington one of the most anticipated games of the year, but it didn’t take long for the bubble to burst.
It was evident in the first inning that Verlander wasn’t sharp. The first five fastballs the 2011 AL MVP threw resulted in a strike, two balls and two singles. The first three batters he faced — Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and Lance Berkman — delivered that pair of singles and an RBI grounder. Still, it was Darvish who got into the game’s first jam.
Starting in center field in place of the injured Austin Jackson, Don Kelly led off the top of the third with a solo home run, after which the Tigers added another run on singles by Omar Infante and Andy Dirks, a great baserunning play by Infante, who went to third on a wild pitch that didn’t get more than a couple feet away from Rangers catcher Geovany Soto, and a sac fly by Torii Hunter. Miguel Cabrera then doubled, pushing Dirks to third and prompting Rangers manager Ron Washington to have Darvish intentionally walk Prince Fielder to load the bases with one out. The Tigers got a third run on a sac fly by Victor Martinez on the 10th pitch of his at-bat, but Darvish then got Alex Avila to fly out, limiting the damage and validating Washington’s gambit.
That, however, was nothing compared to Verlander’s implosion in the bottom of the inning.
The Rays have placed David Price on the 15-day disabled list a day after the defending Cy Young award winner left his start against the Red Sox in the third inning due to tightness in his left triceps. This marks the first DL stint in the 27-year-old’s career and could provide a welcome respite for the Rays’ ace in a season that has not gone the way he or the team expected.
While it won’t fix the blown calls that two umpiring crews made last week, or provide help during this year’s postseason, an expanded replay system is coming in 2014. On Thursday at the quarterly owners’ meetings in Manhattan, MLB executive vice president Joe Torre provided an update of the league’s progress on the matter.