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Darvish, like Mussina before him, almost perfect

04/03/2013 12:58 AM ET
By Matt Hughes

Mike Mussina, who flirted with perfection multiple times during his 18-year career, was a five-time All Star and seven-time Gold Glove award winner.(AP)
Yu Darvish was one out from pitching a perfect game against the Houston Astros on Tuesday. 

The Texas Rangers' ace was dominant, striking out 14 in 8 2/3 innings. But a solid Marwin Gonzalez single foiled Darvish's bid for history. The Rangers re-grouped after the deflating hit and closed out a 7-0 victory, their first of the young season.

Darvish's performance was reminiscent of Mike Mussina's close-call with perfection on September 2, 2001. 

In his first season with the New York Yankees, Mussina was one strike from a perfect game against the Boston Red Sox. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Mussina was ahead in the count 1-2 against Carl Everett. But a high fast ball doomed Mussina when Everett looped a soft line drive that fell in front of left fielder Chuck Knoblauch, ending the perfect game and no-hitter bid. Mussina managed to regain his composure and close out the tense 1-0 victory. 

After the game, a disappointed Mussina said, ''I'm going to think about it until I retire.''

In a strange baseball twist, David Cone, the last man to throw a perfect game for the Yankees, was the opposing pitcher on the mound that night. Cone pitched brilliantly into the ninth against his former team, giving up just one run, but ultimately took the loss for the Red Sox. 

For Mussina, it was his third time dabbling with perfection. While pitching for the Baltimore Orioles, Mussina sat down the first 25 Cleveland Indians to come to bat on May 30, 1997 before Sandy Alomar singled with one out in the ninth inning. On Aug. 4, 1998, he retired the first 23 Detroit Tigers until a Frank Catalanotto double spoiled the bid.

Mussina retired in 2008 after finishing the season with a 20-9 record. At 39, he was the oldest first-time 20 game winner in MLB history. 

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