Baseball is a game of repetitive failure. A good hitter fails seven out of ten times. A good pitcher gives up three runs in an outing.
Perfection is a rarity. It is a distinction that only a select few attain. And even those players who have been perfect once in their careers don’t find it again.
In fact, some don’t even come close.
The second game of the A’s-Red Sox series on Tuesday night will feature a player who has achieved perfection when Dallas Braden toes the rubber for Oakland. As you might recall, Braden tossed a perfect game on Mother’s Day against the Tampa Bay Rays.
But since his gem on May 9, Braden has been anything but perfect, battling through tough outings and elbow stiffness. The left-hander hasn’t pitched since June 22 because of the elbow issue and now looks to regain at least some of the form he had during his masterpiece against Tampa Bay in May.
While he hasn’t pitched terribly, Braden is 0-5 with a 4.31 ERA in eight starts since his perfect game. The A’s have lost all of those games. But it hasn’t been all his fault. The A’s offense has only scored more than two runs in one of those eight starts.
Braden isn’t the only pitcher who’s thrown a perfect game this season and then had trouble sustaining success.
Roy Halladay threw a perfect game against the Florida Marlins on May 29, but in nine starts since then, he has given up double-digit hits three times, four or more earned runs three times and multiple home runs four times. While his 2.40 ERA is more than respectable, his 10-8 record is less Halladay-like.
Armando Galarraga has struggled even worse since throwing 8 2/3 innings of perfect ball on June 2 against Cleveland, then getting "Jim Joyce-d" out of the history books.
After that outing, Galarraga made six starts, winning only one and being saddled with a 5.61 ERA. Detroit promptly sent him to Triple-A to pitch for the Toledo Mud Hens.
What went wrong?
Maybe the attention paid to the play at first base and game was more intense than it would have been if Galarraga had thrown the perfect game. Perhaps all the coverage of Joyce’s blown call threw the right-hander offtrack.
Whatever the reason, Galarraga’s time in Toledo was short-lived. He made one start before being recalled Monday and will start Tuesday night against the Rangers in the Motor City.
Galarraga has a chance to prove he’s no fluke. The same goes for Braden.
In the more than 130 years of baseball history, only 20 pitchers have thrown a perfect game. That’s an average of one about every seven years.
Two have happened this year. Almost three.
But perfection — or even near-perfection — is no guarantee of future success.