Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners threw a perfect game yesterday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Rays at Safeco Field. In some ways, it was the perfect set up. One of the best young pitchers in baseball took the mound against a team that had been no-hit on three different occasions since 2009 at a stadium that had already hosted a no-hitter and a perfect game this season. In no way does this make anything that King Felix accomplished less remarkable.
In fact, you could argue that after some early game luck, Hernandez took control of his own destiny by striking out five of the final six batters he faced, including the 27th out, to end the day with 12 strikeouts. It’s his first no-hitter and perfect game, and his eighth career shutout.
Upon the conclusion, I shrieked and danced around like an idiot like everyone else. You never know exactly how you look at these moments and it’s probably best that you don’t. We’re all vain and these moments would do nothing for our vanity. Felix Hernandez threw a perfect game. Felix Hernandez had already hit a grand slam off of one of the best starting pitchers in the world, but now Felix Hernandez had thrown a perfect game. At home, with the Mariners, in front of his Court, against a playoff contender. This start was every start in the making. It felt like it took forever to get here; Felix is 26 years old.
It’s hard not to admire Hernandez’s perseverance through losing seasons, and his steadfast fealty to the Mariners despite getting burned so many times by lack of run support. This was his moment to shine, and I got goose bumps watching Felix get swallowed up by teammates after striking out Sean Rodriguez for the final out.
But I’ll just come out and say it: I’m ecstatic for myself, too. If that’s being self-indulgent, then so be it. I feel I’ve earned a little belated gloating. Because after 27 years of covering baseball and never witnessing a no-hitter — with some agonizing near-misses along the way — the long, national (international, if you include games I’ve covered in Canada, Mexico and Japan) nightmare is over.
From Jay Jaffe of Hit And Run:
In a season that had already featured five no-hitters, including two perfect games, Felix Hernandez added another gem to the pile. On a sunny Wednesday afternoon in front of 21,889 fans at Seattle’s Safeco Field, the Mariners ace retired all 27 Rays he faced en route to the 23rd perfect game in major league history. The 26-year-old righty needed just 113 pitches to do so, the last of them a knee-buckling curveball that froze Tampa Bay’s Sean Rodriguez. It was Hernandez’s 12th strikeout of the game, and fifth over the final two innings.
We witnessed something special Wednesday. We knew it was coming, sometime; Felix Hernandez is just too good. In truth, he has been unhittable on many occasions but sometimes a bat finds ball due to blind luck. Wednesday, under a perfect blue sky, Felix gave us something that we will never forget. He bypassed the no-hitter and went straight to perfection. Twenty-seven up, twenty-seven down, not one with any shot at doing any damage. Felix was in command start to finish.
We felt it early. In the broadcast booth, without saying the words there was talk we could be watching history. It wasn’t the first time, but this was something different. As the game went on, I became less nervous that we would see someone break through. This was Felix’s game. John Jaso said his breaking pitches were impossible to hit. Jesus Montero, in the past, has called the changeup the “invisible pitch.” Felix had them all today.
From Randy Johnson:
Congratulating to my friend in Seattle.Felix you r Perfect for a day welcome to the club.
— Randy Johnson (@RJ51Photos) August 15, 2012
From the Seattle Mariners Double-A Affiliate in Jackson, Tennessee, on which King Felix’s brother plays:
From King Felix’s ever-improving velocity via Brooks Baseball:
And The Rest
The value of pre-arbitration players. [The Hardball Times]
The former head of BALCO, Victor Conte, suggests Melky Cabrera is dumber than dumb for getting caught with high testosterone levels. [Twitter]
Bruce Bochy on Melky Cabrera, and his 50 game suspension for testing positive for testosterone. [McCovey Chronicles]
Chicago Cubs pitcher Chris Volstad hasn’t won a game since July 17, 2011. [Bats Blog]
Baltimore Orioles General Manager Dan Duquette shares some of his organizational philosophies, including a disdain for the cutter. [MASN Sports]
Former Atlanta Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone calls the Washington Nationals innings limit on Stephen Strasburg pathetic. [Daily Pitch]
The Miami Marlins have been held scoreless for thirty innings. [Fish Stripes]
Outfielder David Murphy is an undeterred member of the Texas Rangers. [FanGraphs]
The Pittsburgh Pirates have lost seven of their last nine games, and their pitching is giving up a ton of hits. [Baseball Musings]
The fewest strike outs in a perfect game. [Old Time Family Baseball]
Bobby Valentine’s tight rope with the Boston Red Sox. [Baseball Nation]