ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Drew Rasmussen was in cruise control from the start when he got Baltimore leadoff batter, Cedric Mullins, looking at a called third strike.
The 27-year-old righthander from Puyallup, Wash. made quick work of the Orioles’ lineup and found himself three outs away from becoming the first pitcher in Rays history to throw a perfect game.
Instead, Jorge Mateo’s double leading off the ninth inning prevented such an entry in the Rays’ media guide. Rasmussen settled for a one-hit effort over 8 1/3 innings in a 4-1 win in front of 18,093 on Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field
“It’s one of those things you understand what’s happened the first two times through the order,” said Rasmussen, who threw the only perfect game in Oregon State history as a freshman in 2015 against Washington State. “Then you go out there for the seventh and you have a quality inning. Then go out there for the eighth and have a quality inning and you really start to understand what’s happening. It was a really cool outing and a really cool environment to be in.”
Rasmussen threw only 63 pitches through the first seven innings, or nine pitches per inning. To that point, his busiest inning was a 12-pitch second. He finished his outing having thrown 87 pitches before Jason Adam struck out the final two batters for his sixth save.
“He put together a special outing,” said manager Kevin Cash. “Obviously, wanted to see him get (the perfect game), but really, really pleased with how efficient he was. The Orioles were aggressive, which I don’t fault them for that because they didn’t want to get deep in counts. But he probably had the best breaking balls that I’ve seen this year and they had to respect that. So, when they saw the cutter or fastball, they kind of had to jump on it.”
Rasmussen, who had a string of 16 consecutive scoreless innings across three outings snapped when Mateo scored on a wild pitch, did not issue a walk and struck out seven. Though there were no highlight-reel type plays behind him, the defense did its job in keeping the perfecto intact.
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“Our defense is really good, so if you give those guys the opportunity to make plays, you got a really good chance of getting (out of innings) quickly,” said Rasmussen, who improved to 7-4 with a 2.80 ERA.
The previous longest perfect-game bid in franchise history was also eight innings. Opener Ryne Stanek (two innings) and Ryan Yarbrough (six) combined to go that far, ironically, at Baltimore in 2019. The longest individual perfect game bid was by Chris Archer, who went 6 1/3 innings against Detroit in 2015 without allowing a baserunner.
Matt Garza has the only no-hitter in team history. The righthander accomplished the feat against the Tigers at Tropicana Field in 2010.