Maybe it's the pressure.
After the first 26 outs appeared so easy, the 27th out was elusive yet again on Tuesday night, when Michael Wacha became the third pitcher this season to lose a no-hitter with two outs in the ninth inning.
Wacha joined Texas righty Yu Darvish and Giants righty Yusmeiro Petit to come one out short of history. Darvish and Petit had perfect games before losing the last batter; Wacha had a no-hitter, having walked two and one reach by error.
All three of the hitters who played spoiler had one thing in common: Prior to that game, they had never faced the pitcher. The lack of familiarity can often favor the man on the mound, but not in these three scenarios:
Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish vs. Houston Astros, Minute Maid Park, April 2, 2013:
Pitch count: 110
Batter (career vs. pitcher): Marwin Gonzalez (0-for-2)
The play: Darvish had thrown a fastball away to start off each of the previous two batters that inning, and Gonzalez later said he was waiting for another one. Darvish threw a fastball away and Gonzalez smacked it between the pitcher's legs and into the outfield. Darvish said it was an impossible catch for him to make.
"I didn't want to be the last out," Gonzalez said.
Giants right-hander Yusmeiro Petit vs. Arizona Diamonbacks, AT&T Park, Sept. 6, 2013:
Pitch count: 87
Batter (career vs. pitcher): Eric Chavez (N/A)
The play: Petit fell behind 2-0 before throwing two strikes to even the count. His fifth pitch was a teasing curveball that dropped through the strike zone, but Chavez showed restraint (Petit later said he was surprised Chavez didn't swing). Petit went back to the fastball and hit the outside corner of the plate, but the left-handed Chavez poked it to right field. Hunter Pence charged in and made a diving stab, but he couldn't come up with it.
"I felt like when it was hit, it was like one of those dreams where you just can't run fast enough," Pence said afterward.
Said Chavez, "I wasn't up there trying to break his heart, I just wanted to break it up. It was a pride thing."
Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha vs. Washington Nationals, Busch Stadium, Sept. 24, 2013:
Pitch count: 116
Batter (career vs. pitcher): Ryan Zimmerman (0-for-2, BB)
The play: Wacha had just struck out Denard Span looking at a tantalizing pitch that caught a lot of the plate, and Zimmerman had no intentions of hiding his aggression. Wacha dialed up a 97-mph fastball to the low, outside corner and Zimmerman made a late attempt, with the end of his bat catching just enough of the ball to send it bouncing to the ground and over the head of Wacha. Wacha missed it by inches and shortstop Pete Kozma made a barehanded attempt, but the throw was off the mark as Zimmerman reached safely.