The Phillies signed right-hander Carlos Zambrano to a Minor League deal on May 15, setting July 1 as an opt-out date. Zambrano worked himself back into game shape, then started at Single-A Clearwater, then Double-A Reading, and most recently with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Entering tonight’s start, his last in the Phillies’ Minor League system at least, he had posted a 1.89 ERA in 31.1 innings. Despite the nice ERA, reports have been less than enthusiastic, citing a sub-90 MPH fastball and baffling inefficiency. As time went on, it became more and more clear that Zambrano wasn’t going to earn that coveted promotion to the Majors.
Tonight, his fate has been sealed. He left his start against the Durham Bulls after only two innings with an apparent arm injury. The Phillies will seek to bolster their flimsy starting rotation elsewhere (if they even do at all) while the 32-year-old Zambrano will seek a path to the Major Leagues elsewhere.
Just one week after Taylor Cole and Felix Peña tossed a combined no-hitter against Seattle, Mariners right-hander Mike Leake worked on his own perfect game through eight innings against the Angels.
It was an ambitious form of revenge, and one that Leake served up perfectly as he held the Angels scoreless in frame after frame. He sprinkled a handful of strikeouts throughout the first eight innings, catching Matt Thaiss on a called strike three in the third and getting two whiffs — called strikeouts against both Brian Goodwin and Shohei Ohtani — in the fourth.
The Mariners, meanwhile, put up a good fight against the Angels, backing Leake’s attempt with 10 runs — their first double-digit total since a 13-3 rout of the Orioles on June 23. Daniel Vogelbach led things off in the fourth with a three-run homer off of reliever Jaime Barria, then repeated the feat with another three-run shot off Barria in the fifth. Tom Murphy and J.P. Crawford helped pad the lead as well with a two-RBI single and two-RBI double, respectively.
In the ninth, with just three outs remaining, the Angels finally managed to break through. Luis Rengifo worked a 1-1 count against Leake, then returned an 85.3-m.p.h. changeup to right field for a base hit, dismantling the perfecto and the no-hitter in one fell swoop. Leake lost control of the ball following the hit, issuing four straight balls to Kevan Smith in the next at-bat and giving the Angels their first runner in scoring position. Still at a pitch count of just 90, however, he induced the next two outs in quick fashion and polished off the win with a triumphant eight-pitch strikeout against Mike Trout for the first one-hitter (and Maddux) of his career.
Had Leake successfully closed out the perfecto, it would’ve been the first of his decade-long career in the majors and the first the Mariners had seen since Félix Hernández’s perfect game against the Rays in August 2012. For their part, the Angels have yet to be on the losing end of a perfecto. The last time they were shut out in a no-hitter was 1999, at the hands of then-Twins pitcher Eric Milton.