Max Scherzer's near-perfect game on June 20, 2015, was a gem for the ages. The Washington Nationals ace was one out away from a perfect game against the Pittsburgh Pirates when disaster struck. Scherzer hit the Pirates' Jose Tabata with a pitch, ending his chance at perfection. Undeterred, Scherzer got the next batter to fly out to left field, completing a no-hitter and cementing his place in baseball history.
On April 2, 2013, Texas Rangers' Yu Darvish came excruciatingly close to throwing a perfect game against the Houston Astros. In a masterful performance, Darvish retired 26 straight batters. However, with just one out remaining, Astros' Marwin Gonzalez hit a single through Darvish's legs, breaking up the perfect game bid. Despite the disappointment, Darvish still finished with a complete game shutout and 14 strikeouts.
Armando Galarraga's near-perfect game on June 2, 2010, is perhaps the most infamous in history. Pitching for the Detroit Tigers against the Cleveland Indians, Galarraga was one out away from immortality when a blown call by umpire Jim Joyce robbed him of his moment. Joyce mistakenly called the Indians' Jason Donald safe at first base, though replays clearly showed he was out. Galarraga retired the next batter, finishing with a one-hit shutout that will forever be remembered for the controversial call.
Yankees' pitcher Mike Mussina nearly achieved perfection on September 2, 2001, against the Boston Red Sox. Mussina was on the verge of a perfect game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning when Red Sox pinch-hitter Carl Everett hit a bloop single to left field. Interestingly, this wasn't the only time Mussina brought a perfect game into the ninth inning. His near-perfect game fell just short, but he still managed a one-hit shutout in a 1-0 Yankees victory
Pitching for the Montreal Expos on June 3, 1995, Pedro Martinez was dominant against the San Diego Padres. Martinez retired the first 27 batters he faced, but in a bizarre twist, the game was tied 0-0 and went into extra innings. In the 10th inning, Martinez gave up a double to Bip Roberts, ending his perfect game bid. The Expos would eventually win 1-0, but Martinez's perfect game attempt will always be remembered for the unique circumstances.
In one of the most incredible near-perfect game stories, Pittsburgh Pirates' pitcher Harvey Haddix took the mound on May 26, 1959, against the Milwaukee Braves. Haddix threw a remarkable 12 perfect innings, only to lose the game in the 13th inning. A fielding error broke the perfect game, and the Braves' Joe Adcock hit a walk-off home run that was later ruled a double due to a baserunning mistake. Haddix's performance, although not a perfect game, remains one of the most extraordinary feats in baseball history.
The near-perfect games mentioned above serve as reminders of the rare and exceptional nature of a perfect game. Baseball is a sport rich in history, tradition, and legendary accomplishments. When pitchers come tantalizingly close to achieving perfection, it highlights the delicate balance between triumph and heartbreak that defines this great game. As fans, we celebrate these moments and the athletes who push themselves to the edge of greatness, understanding that such achievements and near-misses are what make baseball an enduring and captivating spectacle.