Kansas City Royals starter Jorge Lopez was one inning away from pitching his way into the record books on Saturday night. The young right-hander took a perfect game into the ninth inning in a game against the Minnesota Twins. The Kansas City Royals would go on to defeat the Minnesota Twins by a score of 4-1.
Lopez, 25, was making just his seventh start in the Major Leagues on Saturday night. It was only the fifth time that he had started for the Kansas City Royals after being dealt to KC in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers at the end of July. Lopez gave the Royals team and fans a glimpse into what they might see in the future with him on the mound.
Oh So Close
Lopez entered the ninth inning having thrown just 100 pitches and had not allowed a Minnesota Twins batter to reach base. His bid for perfection ended when he walked Max Kepler on a 3-1 pitch to lead off the ninth inning. The no-hitter was lost just one batter later when Robbie Grossman followed the Kepler walk with a single. The Royals faithful gave Lopez a huge ovation after losing his chance at history. Manager Ned Yost was super impressed by the calmness of his hurler.
” I asked Salvy, how did you keep him so calm?”
The Royals acquired Lopez when they sent longtime Royal, Mike Moustakas, to the Milwaukee Brewers before the trade deadline. Kansas City is in a rebuilding phase and it appears that Lopez will play a big role as they move forward. With his win on Saturday night, Lopez improved his record to 2-4 in 2018.
Lopez was removed from the game after throwing 110 pitches, which was 11 more than his previous career high. He struck out four Twins batters in the victory. The young right-hander got off to a shaky start going to a three-ball count with the first three batters of the game before retiring them. Jorge Bonifacio and Alex Gordon made huge plays in the early stages of the game that helped to preserve the perfect game bid. Bonifacio made a leaping catch on the warning track in right field and Gordon made a sliding catch in the fifth inning.
Looking at History
The only pitcher since 1900 to throw a perfect game in his first ten Major League starts was Chicago White Sox pitcher Charles Robertson in 1922. Lopez was trying to become just the second player in Major League history to accomplish the feat.
The last pitcher to throw a perfect game in the Major Leagues was Felix Hernandez when he accomplished the feat on August 15, 2012. The Seattle Mariners hurler threw the 23rd perfect game in Major League history against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Kansas City Royals have never had a perfect game thrown in their team’s history.
Bret Saberhagen is the last pitcher to throw a no-hitter as a member of the Kansas City Royals. He accomplished the feat in a game against the Chicago White Sox in 1991. There have been three no-hitters thrown in the Major Leagues this season.