Cubs starter Drew Smyly loses perfect game on disastrous eighth-inning collision with Yan Gomes

Drew Smyly was almost perfect Friday against the Dodgers. (AP Photo/Erin Hooley)

Opposing MLB pitchers know they need to be fully locked in on the mound if they hope to stifle the powerful Los Angeles Dodgers’ lineup. For seven innings, Chicago Cubs starter Drew Smyly was even more than that Friday. When the eighth inning opened, Smyly was vying to complete the 24th perfect game in major-league history.

Then disaster struck.

On the second pitch of the inning, Dodgers outfielder David Peralta hit a dribbler down the third-base line. Smyly scooped up the ball with his back to first base. As he started to turn to make the throw to first, Cubs catcher Yan Gomes ran into Smyly and flipped over his back.

Peralta reached first easily. The official scorer gave Peralta a hit on the play, ending Smyly’s bid for a perfect game or a no-hitter.

It was a disappointing end to what was otherwise a magnificent performance by Smyly, who looked strong almost immediately Friday. He navigated through the Dodgers’ first three hitters with relative ease, retiring the side on 16 pitches and registering a strikeout of designated hitter J.D. Martinez to end the frame.

That strikeout proved to be a sign of things to come. Smyly struck out the side on just 14 pitches in the second and then struck out the first two batters he faced in the third. He finished the contest with 10 strikeouts, his highest single-game total since 2020.

Incredibly, Smyly dominated the Dodgers with just two pitches. A knuckle curve and a sinker were all he needed to rip through the powerful Dodgers’ lineup. Smyly registered 18 whiffs in the performance, 10 of which came on the knuckle curve.

Following Peralta’s eighth-inning single, Smyly got two more outs before he was taken out of the game. He threw 106 pitches in the start and was replaced by Jeremiah Estrada, who kept the Dodgers off the board in both the eighth and ninth innings to secure a 13-0 Cubs win.

Yan Gomes dons football helmet after perfect game mistake

Say this for Gomes, he at least had a sense of humor about a mortifying play, and owned his mistake after the game.

The catcher donned a football helmet before he spoke to reporters:

The 35-year-old Gomes indicated his age was partially to blame for the run-in and quipped his pitcher had to make a football play:

“I guess [Smyly] didn’t think he was going to be recovering a fumble today.

“It’s an aggressive play. Both of us went after it. It just came to the point where both of us wanted it. He got to it before I did. I’m not as quick as I used to be trying to jump out of the way and I ended up riding him, becoming a cool picture.”

Smyly flirts with perfect game in win over Dodgers

Had he completed the perfect game, Smyly’s performance would’ve been historic in a number of ways. In addition to being the 24th perfect game in major-league history, it would’ve marked the first perfect game in Cubs franchise history. The Cubs have been on the opposite end of a perfect game — Sandy Koufax in 1965 — but have never had their own pitcher pull off the feat.

In fact, it had been quite some time since a Cubs pitcher even flirted with the accomplishment.

After a rough start to the season, Smyly has shown improvement with each start. He gave up six runs against the Cincinnati Reds in his first outing of the season. Since then, he has surrendered just two earned runs in his past 18 1/3 innings. Friday’s start marked the first time this season that Smyly pitched into the seventh inning. He now has a 3.13 ERA through 23 innings.

Smyly will look to keep that momentum going in his next start, which will come against the San Diego Padres.

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