Indians outfielder Choo Shin-soo (second from right) celebrates with teammates after hitting a three-run homer in the eighth inning. (AFP-Yonhap News)
Felix Hernandez tosses baseball’s third perfect game of season and 23rd in major league history
SEATTLE (AP) ― King Felix now has a crowning achievement.
Felix Hernandez pitched the Seattle Mariners’ first perfect game and the 23rd in baseball history, overpowering the Tampa Bay Rays in a brilliant 1-0 victory Wednesday.
The 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner has long talked of his desire to achieve pitching perfection. He finally accomplished it against the Rays, striking out the side twice and finishing with 12 strikeouts.
It was the third perfect game in baseball this season ― a first ― joining gems by Chicago’s Philip Humber against the Mariners in April and San Francisco’s Matt Cain versus Houston in June. More than half of all perfectos ― 12 ― have come in the last 25 seasons.
This also was the sixth no-hitter in the majors this season, three of them at Safeco Field. Humber threw his gem in Seattle, then six Mariners pitchers combined to hold the Los Angeles Dodgers hitless at the park on June 8. Prior to Wednesday, no team has ever had a combined no-hitter and a complete game no-hitter in the same season.
For the Rays, it was an all-too-familiar feeling. This was the third time in four seasons they had a perfect game pitched against them, following efforts by Dallas Braden in 2010 and Mark Buehrle in 2009. They’ve been no-hit four times over the past four seasons.
“I don’t have any words to explain this,” Hernandez said to the crowd, speaking on the field after the final out. “I’ve been working so hard to throw one and today is for you guys.”
Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez celebrates his perfect game on Wednesday. (AP-Yonhap News)
The Venezuelan-born Felix Hernandez is the second player born in Latin America to throw a perfect game. Dennis Martinez, who was born in Nicaragua, threw a perfect game in 1991. In fact, he is the 2nd player born outside of the United States to throw a perfect game
Desmond Jennings pinch hit for Jose Lobaton to open the ninth. Hernandez got ahead 1-2 before Jennings fouled off two straight and Hernandez fanned him on a 92 mph fastball down in the zone. Jeff Keppinger batted for Elliot Johnson and grounded out to shortstop on a 1-2 pitch.
With one out to go, Sean Rodriguez got ahead 2-0 in the count. After circling the mound, Hernandez came back with two straight breaking balls for strikes and ended perfection with a called third strike on his 113th pitch.
“I went 2-0 and I just took a little walk, took a break and he called a slider. I had been following him the whole game, so I threw a slider and he swing,” Hernandez said. “It was a good thing I followed this guy.”
Hernandez (11-5) threw his arms up to the sky and was mobbed by teammates at the pitcher’s mound. He embraced catcher John Jaso for a few seconds and then shared hugs with the rest of his teammates.
“It was in my mind, the whole game, it was in my mind,” Hernandez said.
Miami 9, Philadelphia 2
Detroit 5, Minnesota 1
Chicago Cubs 7, Houston 2
Colorado 7, Milwaukee 6
Washington 6, San Francisco 4
NY Yankees 3, Texas 2
Baltimore 5, Boston 3
LA Dodgers 9, Pittsburgh 3
Chicago 9, Toronto 5
Atlanta 6, San Diego 1
Cincinnati 6, NY Mets 1
Kansas City 3, Oakland 2
St. Louis 5, Arizona 2
LA Angels 8, Cleveland 4