in collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers throws the game of his life at Comerica Park. It was a game that should have made history and ended as a Perfect Game against the Cleveland Indians. After 26 outs, Jason Donald reaches on an “infield single.” The problem is Donald was clearly out as Jim Joyce; the first base umpire blew the call. Trevor Crowe would groundout on to end the game, as the Tigers won 3-0.
Armando Galarraga was born on January 15, 1982, in Cumana, Venezuela. He signed his first professional contract at the age of 16, playing in the Montreal Expos system. In 2005 he was one of the prospects the Washington Nationals traded to the Texas Rangers for Alfonso Soriano. Galarraga made his debut with the Rangers 2007. He was later traded to the Detroit Tigers.
Armando Galarraga’s first full season in the majors was 2008; he posted a record of 13-7 with a 3.73 ERA. Gallaraga struggled in his second year, posting a record of 6-10 with a hefty 5.64 ERA. After struggling in Spring Training in 2010, Armando Galarraga began the season with AAA Toledo. He was recalled in May, splitting his first two decision.
When Armando Galarraga made the start against the Cleveland Indians, there had already been two perfect games in 2010. On May 9th, Dallas Braden of the Oakland Athletics shut down the Tampa Bay Rays, while Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies retired all 27 Florida Marlins on May 29th. The Tigers were hovering near .500 at 26-25 for manager Jim Leyland. The Cleveland Indians were at 19-31 for manager Manny Acta, as Roberto Hernandez made the start on Wednesday night in Detroit.
Armando Galarraga was not much of a strikeout pitcher, as he had just three the night of his magical performance. In the second inning, Miguel Cabrera gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead on a home run, leading off the inning. Galarraga retired the first nine batters without a strikeout. He would not record his first strikeout until ending the fourth inning with a strikeout of Austin Kearns. Mark Grudzielanek was the next strikeout victim in the sixth. Jhonny Peralta would strikeout in the eighth inning as the score remained 1-0.
Roberto Hernandez was nearly as good as Galarraga as the Cabrera home run as all he would allow until the eighth inning. The Tigers started a two-out rally in the eighth, with Austin Jackson and Johnny Damon collecting singles. Magglio Ordonez followed with a single that scored Jackson, as Damon scored on a throwing error, Shin-Soo Choo.
Staked with a 3-0 lead, all the focus was on Armando Galarraga as he looked to finish off the Perfect Game, after retiring the first 24 batters. Grudzielanek flew out to Austin Jackson who made a great running catch in deep centerfield to start the inning. Mike Redmond ground out to Ramon Santiago at short for the second out. Next up was Jason Donald with all of Comerica Park on their feet. Donald hit a week ground ball that was fielded by Miguel Cabrera, who tossed the ball to Galarraga, who was covering at first. Galarraga beat Donald by a step, but umpire Jim Joyce ruled that he was safe.
As the hit went on, the board replays clearly showed that call was wrong. At the time, instant replay was limited to home run calls and could not be used to change the call. Donald would advance to second and to third on indifference as a stunned Armando Galarraga faced Trevor Crowe, who ended the game with a grounder, Brandon Inge.
After the game, Jim Joyce tearfully apologized for the blown call. Armando Galarraga would accept the apology. There were calls to overturn the call after the game so that the Tigers hurler could get the Perfect Game on his record. The two would collaborate on a book, which would prevent Joyce from ever working a game for any of Galarraga’s teams the remainder of his career. That career would not last long, as a month after the 28-out Perfect Game Armando Galarraga was back in the minors.
Armando Galarraga later pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Houston Astros, before making his final major league appearance in 2012. In 2014, Galarraga spent a season pitching in Taiwan before ending his career with a record of 26-34. Recently Armando Galarraga has asked MLB to take one more look and change the call. Something that will likely not be done.