Tampa Tarpons Lose Perfect Game To Extra-Inning Rule
When is a perfect game not a perfect game?
The Tampa Tarpons never allowed a hit, never allowed a walk and never hit a batter on Monday. Deivi Garcia left the game having retired all 21 batters he faced. But before reliever Christian Morris stepped onto the mound to replace Garcia, there was a runner on second base, which means by the traditional definition of a perfect game, the perfect game was lost.
The Tampa club can argue that it lost its perfect game through no fault of its own.
Tampa lost 1-0 in a game that provided the wildest result of the first year of the minor leagues new extra-inning rule.
Tampa Tarpons righthander Deivi Garcia was as good as a pitcher could be for seven innings on Monday. He threw seven perfect innings, striking out 12 in a game that was scheduled to end after seven innings.
But while Garcia retired 21 Clearwater Threshers in order, his Tampa teammates were also shut out by Clearwater’s McKenzie Mills for seven innings.
So to start the eighth inning, the first extra inning, MLB rules state that a runner begins the inning on second base. So through no fault of the Tampa pitching staff or defense, Luke Williams “ended” the perfect game (by the traditional definition of a perfect game) by beginning the eighth inning on second base.
The perfect game ended more traditionally with the first batter of the eighth inning as shortstop Diego Castillo failed to catch Christian Morris’ throw that would have been the first out of the inning. After a ground out, Williams scored on a fielder’s choice. Of course, if Williams hadn't been on second base, there would have been no play at third to be made.
That lone run proved to be all that Clearwater needed as Alberto Tirado retired three Tampa batters in order to hold Tampa scoreless in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Tampa still finished with a no-hitter.
Theoretically there could be a game that does a better job of challenging the definition of a perfect game. In Monday’s game, the Yankees did lose the perfect game in a true sense eventually because of their eighth-inning error, even if it could be argued that the perfect game (by MLB's definition) was already ruined by Williams standing on second base.
Before the season, the Elias Stats Bureau told MiLB that there cannot be a run scored in a perfect game even if that run scored without any hits, walks or errors. According to MLB's definition of a perfect game, there can no longer be an extra-inning perfect game in a minor league game as MLB's official definition states that “in a perfect game, no batter reaches any base during the course of the game.”
MLB's Vice President of Stats Cory Schwartz reached out with a Tweet to clarify that auto-runners do not count to eliminate a perfect game by their understanding, even if that is counter to the official MLB definition of a perfect game,
No need to wait, I can tell you right now: Auto-runners don’t count against a perfect game or no-hitter.— (((Cory Schwartz))) (@schwartzstops) August 7, 2018
So while Tampa lost its perfect game on the error, they did not lose it when the runner was sent to second base. So theoretically, a minor league team could lose a game while still pitching a perfect game. Which is something hard to comprehend.