Cubs’ Drew Smyly loses perfect game in painful manner

Smyly induced the Dodgers’ David Peralta to hit a feeble grounder toward the left side of the infield leading off the eighth inning. But Smyly and catcher Yan Gomes collided while trying to field it. The Cubs won 13-0.

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Cubs catcher Yan Gomes collides with starting pitcher Drew Smyly, preventing the throw to first base and ending Smyly’s chance at a perfect game during the eighth inning at Wrigley Field.

Cubs catcher Yan Gomes collides with starting pitcher Drew Smyly, preventing the throw to first base and ending Smyly’s chance at a perfect game during the eighth inning at Wrigley Field.

Erin Hooley/AP

Perhaps left-hander Drew Smyly was too perfect Friday.

Needing six outs to complete the first perfect game in Cubs history, Smyly induced David Peralta to hit a feeble grounder that traveled about 40 feet near the third-base line.

But in their collective efforts to preserve the mastery, Smyly and catcher Yan Gomes sprinted immediately toward the ball. Unfortunately for the Cubs and an emotional crowd of 30,381, Smyly was essentially tackled by Gomes after fielding the dribbler.

The cheers turned to groans as Peralta reached first base while Smyly sat on the ground in disappointment.

That was the only dejection as the Cubs rolled to a 13-0 humbling of the Dodgers.

“I thought it was going to be an easier play for me to make because Yan would have had to pick it up and spin and throw,” said Smyly, who said he heard Gomes wanting to field the ball.

Gomes didn’t lose his sense of humor, wearing a football helmet after the game.

“I’m not as quick as I used to be jumping out of the way,” Gomes said. “I ended up riding him, and it became a cool picture.”

“I wanted to dig myself a hole and hide underneath it.”

Nevertheless, Gomes caught one of the most masterful performances in recent Cubs history. Smyly, 33, relying exclusively on a knuckle curve-fastball mix, struck out 10 before departing to a rousing ovation with two outs in the eighth at 103 pitches. Smyly struck out six consecutive batters early in the game.

“I wanted to ride him harder than Yan did,” manager David Ross quipped about his intent to let Smyly compete for a perfect game.

Thanks to four home runs, Smyly’s perfect-game bid provided the only suspense as he baffled the Dodgers with a knuckle curve that he threw 55% of the time and generated 10 swings and misses, according to Baseball Savant.

“We have nothing against the Dodgers, but we had a very simple Drew Smyly game plan,” Gomes said. “The nervousness really wasn’t there.”

Ironically, Smyly said he didn’t have one of his best pregame bullpen sessions but told Gomes while walking to the dugout, “Sometimes those can be your best games.”

This was Smyly’s best outing since throwing a two-hit shutout on Aug. 14, 2014, at Toronto while pitching for the Rays. Smyly recalled he relied more on a four-pitch mix.

This was the longest perfect-game bid by a Cubs pitcher since Milt Pappas retired the first 26 batters before walking Larry Stahl on a 3-2 count and settled for a no-hitter on Sept. 2, 1972.

“He cruised,” Ross said.

Smyly said he’s not superstitious and recalled after retiring the first nine batters he said, “Oh, my.”

“But I’m not thinking about the long term,” Smyly said. “I’m just thinking how long I can go without giving up one.”

Smyly encountered an uncomfortable situation with two outs in the seventh when he couldn’t hear his PitchCom device because of the roar of the crowd, and Gomes’ earpiece fell out with the pitch clock winding down. Gomes had to read Smyly’s lips to recognize that he wanted to throw a knuckle curve, and J.D. Martinez flied to left to end the inning.

“It was his best pitch working,” Gomes said.

The Cubs’ long rallies, which included a seven-run fifth, took pressure off Smyly.

“That reasserted our game plan of just attack,” Smyly said. “You’ll never hear me complain about long innings in the dugout.”

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