In his first start of the 2013 season, Yu Darvish took a perfect game into the ninth inning against the Astros. With 8 2/3 complete, Marwin Gonzalez singled up the middle to end Darvish's bid for history. Darvish exited the game after throwing 111 pitches.
Pitcher: Yu Darvish, Rangers
Opponent: Houston Astros
Strategy: Darvish is known for his ability to mix pitches effectively. He mostly worked with two primary pitches against the Astros; the cut-fastball and slider. He mixed in a four-seam fastball 19 times. Mostly, though, he relied heavily on two offerings.
Against left-handers, Darvish utilized his cutter to get ahead in the count. The pitch had a 22.5 percent whiff rate on the night, making it pretty successful. He was able to get one by Rick Ankiel in the the second inning.
Once he had two strikes on left-handed hitters, Darvish would break out the slider for the strikeout. Brett Wallace's first at-bat was a prime example of this strategy. Darvish threw four straight cutters to Wallace before using the slider as an out pitch.
He used the slider more often against righties, in this case that was only Jose Altuve, Chris Carter and Justin Maxwell. Maxwell actually saw a fair amount of cutters, but both Altuve and Carter saw heavy slider usage. Carter's eighth inning at-bat against Darvish was extremely slider-heavy. After leading Carter off his the pitch, Darvish threw it four straight times with a 3-2 count, eventually getting the strikeout.
Best pitch: The slider was Darvish's most dominant pitch. He was able to throw the pitch for a strike 78.8 percent of the time Tuesday, nearly as much as his cut-fastball. Darvish produced a ridiculous 36.4 percent whiff rate with the pitch against Houston.
Bonus gif: Darvish's reaction to giving up his ninth inning hit.