Felix Hernandez Pitches Perfect Game
15 Aug, 2012
King Felix, indeed. The year of the pitcher has turned into something that carries more than a season’s tone as Seattle’s Felix Hernandez pitched a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Safeco Field on Wednesday afternoon.
That’s the third perfect game in the major leagues this season — a record — as one of baseball’s greatest arms joined a quickly-growing fraternity.
After Hernandez struck out Sean Rodriguez looking to end the game and secure the 1-0 win for the Mariners’ first perfect game in franchise history, teammates streamed onto the field and mobbed Hernandez and fans waved yellow “K” posters. It was the 23rd perfect game in major-league history, and the fifth since May 2010.
“I don’t have any words to explain this, ” Hernandez, 26, said after the game. ”I realized in the third. I was like, wow, nobody on base.
“My whole family is in Venezuela so nobody is here so I celebrate with all of you,” he said pointing to the fans.
He joins Philip Humber — who secured his against the Mariners — and Matt Cain, who also threw perfect games this season. There also have been three no-hitters, one also at Safeco Field that was a combo job among six pitchers: Kevin Millwood, Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor, Lucas Luetge, Brandon League and Tom Wilhelmsen no-hit the L.A. Dodgers on June 8.
It was the second perfect game pitched at Seattle’s Safeco Field this season, following Humber ‘s perfecto for the Chicago White Sox on April 21. So in another first, the Mariners become the only team to have a perfect game — and to be at the wrong end of one — in the same season.
The Tampa Bay Rays had four no-hitters – including Dallas Braden’s perfect game in 2010 and Mark Buehrle’s perfecto in 2009 – already thrown against them in their history.
Hernandez, the 2010 Cy Young Award winner who leads the AL in shutouts this season with four, fanned 12. The right-hander struck out the side in the eighth inning, using a sharp breaking ball to set down Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist and Carlos Pena. He threw 113 pitches, 77 for strikes.
He is 11-5 on the year, with a 2.60 ERA. He’s fanned 174 in 180 innings of work. And now he has added another superlative to his resume, one he’s long wanted in his eight-year career, all with the Mariners.
“Words can’t explain it. I’ve been working so hard to throw one, for you guys,” Hernandez said to the Safeco Field crowd of nearly 22,000.
“It was in my mind, the whole game. C’mon, you gotta do it, you gotta do it. When I came out for the ninth, I was a little nervous, but you gotta make your pitches.”
Catcher John Jaso helped guide him through the memorable feat.
“He never did struggle. He kept making pitches the whole game through,” Jaso said. “The last at-bat going down 2-0 and still having the confidence to go slider. He had that confidence all day. … As a hitter you just got to tip your cap and say nobody can hit that. Maybe (Barry) Bonds.”
Felix Hernandez pitched the first perfect game in Mariners history.
“I just want to take it all in. I’m so proud of (Hernandez),” Ryan said. “What a guy. Lucky to be wearing a Mariner uniform today.
“I was trying to tell myself once the sixth inning hit, ‘Don’t get too excited.'”
Ryan, who was the last out for Humber’s perfecto on April 21, added:
“I was the 27th out a few months back and definitely not fun.”
He did his part Wednesday, scoring the only run the Mariners needed. He singled in the third inning, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Jesus Montero single.
Rays manager Joe Maddon tried to disrupt Hernandez’s rhythm with two outs in the seventh, arguing balls and strikes with umpire Rob Drake. That only drew him an ejection and Hernandez retired Matt Joyce on a groundout to first to end the inning.
Cain’s perfecto came against the Houston Astros on June 13 in San Francisco — also a first for the Giants franchise.
As for Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels and Johan Santana of the N.Y. Mets? They merely tossed no-hitters.
Mentioned In This Post: