HOUSTON — Rangers manager Ron Washington was certainly impressed as he watched Yu Darvish flirt with perfection Tuesday night.
He was even more blown away when he saw a television replay of the Japanese star coming within an out of the second perfect game in club history.
"It wasn't as nasty looking from the side as it was when I saw it on TV," Washington said Wednesday. "He was nasty. I mean, his ball was moving all over the place. He had his cutter working. He had a breaking ball. He threw some splits. He threw a couple of changeups. He threw very few four-seamers. To watch it after the fact, I said he was dominating."
The right-hander struck out a career-high 14 in a 7-0 win over the Astros. He was in complete control before Marwin Gonzalez grounded the first pitch he saw up the middle with two outs in the ninth inning.
Darvish was unable to get his glove down in time, and the ball skittered into centerfield well beyond a desperate dive by SS Elvis Andrus.
Washington immediately went to the mound and signaled for a reliever after the hit by Gonzalez. He had decided in the eighth inning that he would pull him the moment there was a hit or a walk.
"He hadn't thrown that many pitches in spring training, so I felt that when perfection was over, that was it," Washington said. "We would have brought someone else in and hoped they could have got us what we needed to finish the game off."
Of course, Washington didn't want to see Darvish lose the perfect game, but if it had to end, he was relieved it ended on a hit instead of a walk.
"I felt like if he would have walked that guy, he was gone," Washington said of Houston's Chris Carter, who took Darvish to a full count before striking out in the eighth. "I'm glad (Gonzalez) got a base hit because I would have had darts in my back if I walked out there after a walk."
Darvish, who threw 111 pitches, acknowledged after the game that it was getting difficult in the late innings.
KAZMIR SCRATCHED: Indians LHP Scott Kazmir was scratched from his season debut Saturday at the Trop because of a strained abdomen. The former Rays All-Star hadn't pitched in the majors since April 2011 before making Cleveland's rotation out of spring training. He's scheduled to have an MRI exam today.
LUDWICK OUT: Reds LF Ryan Ludwick is expected to miss at least three months because of a dislocated right shoulder that required surgery.
COLON NEARS RETURN: RHP Bartolo Colon, suspended last year for 50 games for a positive test for testosterone, could rejoin the rotation as soon as he is eligible Saturday, a website reported. Manager Bob Melvin told csnbayarea.com that Colon, 39, would take RHP Dan Straily's spot in the rotation.
ASTROS: It appears likely that RHP Alex White, a one-time top prospect with the Indians and Rockies, will have reconstructive elbow surgery, the Houston Chronicle reported.
CARDINALS: 3B David Freese, who is on the disabled list with a back injury and eligible to return Monday, appears likely to play in a few extended spring training games before rejoining the team, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported.
MARLINS: 1B Casey Kotchman, a former Ray and Seminole High standout, left with a strained left hamstring and is day to day.
METS: Manager Terry Collins said RHP Shaun Marcum is returning to New York to have his pitching shoulder and neck examined by team doctors. RHP Aaron Laffey will likely make a spot start Sunday.
PHILLIES: OF Ezequiel Carrera was claimed off waivers from the Indians.
YANKEES: RHP Ty Hensley, a first-round pick in June, is expected to miss at least 2-3 months after having surgery to repair a right hip impingement. … LH reliever Clay Rapada, who was designated for assignment last week after missing much of spring training with shoulder bursitis, was released.