What a Difference a Year Makes

June 2, 2010 the baseball world was focused on Comerica Park in Detroit. The Detroit Tigers were hosting the Cleveland Indians. On the surface it looked like any other game on the baseball schedule; two teams struggling to find a winning combination that would lift them in the standings.

For the Indians they had their ace Fausto Carmona on the mound and felt they had a clear advantage over the Tigers who sent Armando Galarraga to the mound. Galarraga was a spot starter with a record of 1-1. He was a young promising pitcher who was slightly erratic with his pitches.

That night Galarraga was anything but erratic. For the first time in his career everything seemed to click. The first 26 batters that he faced Galarraga shut down or forced into outs. He was not just having a good game, he was on the verge of having a perfect game.

Then with two outs in the top of the ninth Galarraga would face Jason Donald. Donald would hit a ball to first base. First baseman Miguel Cabrera fielded the ball and tossed it to Galarraga who was rushing from the mound to cover first.

Galarraga fielded the ball cleanly and stepped on the bag just before Donald arrived and raised his arms to begin celebrating. First base umpire Jim Joyce saw it differently and called Donald safe. The stadium and the baseball world sat stunned unable to believe what they just saw.

Television quickly replayed the series of events showing Joyce had missed the call. For the next several hours this became the biggest story in the game. An umpire’s mistake had changed history.

To his credit Joyce admitted his mistake and personally apologized for missing the call. Galarraga received similar accolades by graciously accepting the apology and moving on. Since that time Galarraga has not come anywhere close to repeating the domination he showed that day.

After the season he was designated for assignment by the Tigers and was subsequently traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks. He battled through Spring Training making the starting rotation for his new team.

Galarraga won his first three decisions with Arizona despite having a miserable ERA; the recipient of outstanding run support. The Diamondbacks offense just could not continue to support Galarraga’s mistakes and he lost his next four starts.

Shortly after his final start with Arizona a reporter asked Galarraga if he was worried about losing his spot in the starting rotation. The once gracious Galarraga suddenly acted like a cornered animal scowling and snarling at the reporter.

The day following this outburst the Diamondbacks designated Galarraga for assignment. After clearing waivers meaning no team in baseball wanted to pick him up, Galarraga was sent to Triple-A Reno to work on becoming more consistent.

When he arrived at Reno Galarraga was asked why he accepted the demotion. He made it clear that he was only in it for the money and that he felt like the Diamondbacks had not right to send him down as he didn’t pitch that poorly.

Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson refused to get involved in the war of comments Galarraga was waging instead suggesting that everyone should be accountable for their own words and actions.

Given the comments and demeanor exhibited by Galarraga it is difficult to see him returning to Arizona to pitch in the big leagues unless there is some kind of mass injury befall the pitching staff.

Leading up to the anniversary of his near-perfect game Galarraga is again speaking graciously to the press understanding errors had been made but that we are all human. It is a far cry from the personality the Diamondbacks have seen from him during his demotion making you wonder which is the real Armando Galarraga?

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