SEATTLE – Mike Leake of the Seattle Mariners lost his bid to pitch a perfect game on a leadoff single in the ninth inning by rookie Luis Rengifo, then finished off the Los Angeles Angels for a 10-0 win Friday night.
A week after the worst start of his career, Leake almost achieved baseball immortality.
The Angels hadn’t come close to a hit and Leake hadn’t gone to a three-ball count before Rengifo grounded a clean hit to right field on Leake’s 79th pitch.
The fans gave Leake a standing ovation and he quickly waved to acknowledge their cheers.
After a walk, Leake (8-8) retired the next three batters for a one-hitter, striking out Mike Trout on a full-count pitch to end it. Leake fanned six overall and walked one.
In between innings, especially as the game went later and later, the bearded, 31-year-old righty sat alone on the Mariners’ bench.
“The sixth, seventh, I started to feel it a little bit,” he said. “It was a cool experience, too bad we didn’t get it.”
Leake’s second career shutout came exactly a week after he was tagged by the Angels in his previous start, giving up seven runs on eight hits and a walk while getting just two outs. The Angels pitched a combined no-hitter that night in Anaheim while the entire club wore jerseys honoring late teammate Tyler Skaggs.
Leake improved to 101-95 in 10 seasons. This was his sixth career complete game, and second this year, in 284 starts.
There have been 23 perfect games in major league history, the last by Felix Hernandez of the Mariners in 2012.
Daniel Vogelbach hit two homers and drove in six runs as Seattle stopped a six-game losing streak.
Jaime Barria (3-3) lost in relief.
Leake kept the Angels off the bases with a fastball that was right around 88 mph, along with a cutter, changeup and curve.
“I was going after guys. I wasn’t going to walk a guy. I was throwing it on the plate and letting them hit it to one of our fielders or late in the count trying to put them away,” he said.
Leake was flawless until Rengifo hit a bouncer that split the first baseman and second baseman. Leake then walked Kevan Smith.
Leake was in complete control from the start and overcame a delay of a few minutes in the top of the fifth when a malfunctioning scoreboard stopped play with a strikeout of Andrelton Simmons.
Seattle’s previous no-hitter was thrown by James Paxton against Toronto last September.
The Mariners hadn’t won since before the All-Star break, a stretch that included their no-hitter loss in LA, and had lost 13 of their last 15.
Vogelbach made it 3-0 with a homer in the fourth. He hit his 23rd home run in the fifth.
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