ARLINGTON, Texas -- In the late innings of Friday's potential no-hitter by Texas Rangers starter Yu Darvish, there was as much attention paid to a controversial call in the seventh as there was for Darvish's bid for baseball immortality.
Darvish had retired the first 20 hitters he faced before David Ortiz came to the plate and hit a routine fly ball to right. Rookie second baseman Rougned Odor -- playing in just his second game in the big leagues -- and right fielder Alex Rios converged, but the ball fell in between the two.
After a delay, the official scorer charged Rios with an error. That kept Darvish's no-hit bid alive for the time being, though Ortiz spoiled it -- officially this time -- with a ground ball single through the shift with two outs in the ninth.
"This is a judgment call,'' explained official scorer Steve Weller. "In my judgment, when the ball goes up in the air, I felt like the second baseman or the right fielder, under normal effort, could've clearly caught the ball. I don't think there's a lot of argument about that. Under the rule, 10.12a1, it clearly states that a fly ball that lands, that's allowed to hit the ground, that in the judgment of the official scorer under normal effort could be caught -- you're to award an error on that play.
"I felt like Rios had an easier play coming in, I felt like he called him off and then both players stopped on the ball....I know what it looks like, some people thinking he's being a hometown scorer and trying to protect the pitcher. I looked at the replay a dozen times and it has not changed my opinion. From my perspective, the perfect game was more coincidental to the call than getting the call right.''
In the ninth, though, Ortiz spoiled it -- officially this time -- with a ground ball single through the shift with two outs in the ninth.
Darvish was lifted then and Alexi Ogando got the final out.
For the Sox, who had trailed 8-0 as early as the fifth, the call didn't impact the game, a one-sided loss.
But most took exception to the call.
"It one of the very rare -- very rare -- times that you see a ball never touched by someone that's ruled an error,'' said John Farrell. "Typically, 10 out of 10, that's a base hit.''
"That ball David hit should have been a hit,'' said A.J. Pierzynski. "(The no-hit bid) should have been over a lot earlier (than the ninth), but David ended up getting a hit in the ninth inning anyway.''
Dustin Pedroia chose a more diplomatic approach.
"I don't get paid to think about stuff like that,'' he said. "The (official scorer's) got a difficult job. I don't have an opinion either way. I've got to worry about hitting Yu Darvish.''
Ortiz, not surprisingly, was animated about the call.
"OK, I know I hit a ball that was supposed to be caught,'' said Ortiz. "A guy throwing a no-hitter...we all understand that. But when it comes down to the rules in the game, that's a hit. That's the rule we all know and that's the rule the game has had for more than 100 years. A ball in the outfield drops and nobody touches it? That's a hit.''
Ironically, Ortiz said had he made an out in the ninth inning, he wouldn't have complained about the one in the seventh. But with the no-hit bid officially gone, he thinks he should get a hit from the seventh inning at bat, too.
"It's going to be two now,'' said Ortiz. "They're going to (have change it). I wouldn't mind if the guy threw a no-hitter. I would have been OK with it, to be honest with you. But now I'm getting greedy.''