Cleveland rookie McKenzie flirts with MLB perfection

Washington (AFP) –


Cleveland's rookie pitcher Triston McKenzie hurled 7 2/3 perfect innings on Sunday, his bid for Major League Baseball history broken up by Detroit's Harold Castro in the Indians' 11-0 victory over the Tigers.

McKenzie retired the first 23 batters he faced as he closed in on MLB's first perfect game since Seattle's Felix Hernandez threw the 23rd perfecto on August 15, 2012.

That nine-year drought without a perfect game -- in which a pitcher retires every batter he faces -- is the longest in the major leagues since the dry spell from 1968-1981.

McKenzie, a rookie who has divided time between the big leagues and the minors this season, received a standing ovation when he departed having given up one hit over eight innings with no walks and 11 strikeouts.

After Castro lined a single to right field to end McKenzie's quest for perfection, the Indians pitcher struck out Willi Castro before departing having thrown 106 pitches, 73 of them strikes.

He had never gone past the seventh inning in a major league start.

Cleveland closer Emmanuel Clase pitched a perfect ninth inning to seal the win.

It was the second dazzling performance by a rookie pitcher in as many days.

Arizona first-year hurler Tyler Gilbert recorded a record-equalling eighth no-hitter of the year on Saturday as the Diamondbacks beat the San Diego Padres 7-0.