Rays' Rasmussen loses perfect game on Mateo's leadoff double in 9th
Drew Rasmussen came agonizingly close to baseball history.
After throwing eight perfect innings against the Baltimore Orioles, the Tampa Bay Rays right-hander lost his bid for a perfect game on the first pitch of the ninth inning, when Jorge Mateo laced a double down the left-field line.
Mateo moved to third and then came around to score the Orioles' first run of the game on a wild pitch. After Brett Phillips reached on a dropped third strike, manager Kevin Cash removed Rasmussen to a standing ovation at Tropicana Field.
"Cutter that stayed over the middle of the plate, and he put a good swing on it," Rasmussen told Bally Sports Florida's Tricia Whitaker postgame. "It really sucks that he came around to score. But like I said, it's just one of those things that happens."
Jason Adam relieved Rasmussen and struck out the final two batters to save a 4-1 Rays victory.
Until his first pitch of the ninth, Rasmussen had been untouchable, needing only 79 pitches to retire the first 24 Orioles hitters he faced. After averaging less than nine pitches per inning over his first seven frames, he appeared on pace for one of the most efficient perfectos ever thrown. That honor still belongs to David Cone's 88-pitch perfect game in 1999, according to Sarah Langs of MLB.com.
Rasmussen finished his day with seven strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings on 87 pitches (62 strikes). He also induced nine ground-ball outs. While he wasn't able to finish the job, his eight perfect innings now stand as the deepest a Rays pitcher has ever taken a perfect-game bid, and he pitched into the ninth inning for the first time in his career.
Incredibly, Rasmussen actually threw a perfect game in 2015 while a freshman pitcher at Oregon State.
The 27-year-old's been quietly effective for the Rays this season, sporting a 2.80 ERA and 1.08 WHIP with 82 strikeouts in 99 2/3 innings. The ninth-inning run ended a personal 16 1/3-inning scoreless streak.
The Rays have still only had one no-hitter in their history, thrown by Matt Garza in 2010. Baltimore, meanwhile, avoided being no-hit for the first time since 2015.
There have been just 23 perfect games thrown in MLB history, although it's been a long time since baseball fans have seen one. Monday will mark the 10th anniversary of the most recent perfect game, thrown by longtime Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez in 2012.