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Felix Hernandez is about as perfect as any pitcher ever

Aug 15, 2012, 6:17 PM EDT

Felix Hernandez Getty Images

There wasn’t even a near-miss in this one. Felix Hernandez dominated the Rays from top to bottom on Wednesday, striking out 12 in a perfect game to beat Tampa Bay 1-0. It was his first career no-hitter and the first perfect game in Mariners history.

As for the Rays, this is becoming old hat for them. Although they’re only been around since 1998, they’re now the first franchise in major league history to be on the losing side in three perfect games. They also had perfect games thrown against them by Mark Buehrle in 2009 and by Dallas Braden in 2010.

Hernandez simply cruised today, even after Rays manager Joe Maddon took the field in the middle of a Matt Joyce at-bat in the seventh to lodge complaints about Rob Drake’s strike zone. And, make no mistake, it was a big strike zone. However, even a small one might not have prevented Hernandez from making history. Besides some fantastic fastball command, he had probably the best changeup I’ve ever seen from him today. He threw B.J. Upton several in a row in the seventh, and Upton still never had a chance.

Hernandez pitched himself right into the think of the AL Cy Young race with today’s performance. Rebounding from a rough patch in May and early June, he’s now won his last seven decisions and is 11-5 with a 2.60 ERA for the season. He’s fifth in the AL in ERA, tied for second in strikeouts (174) and first in innings (180). He now has four shutouts. With one more, he’d be the first AL pitcher to get to five since David Wells in 1998.

  1. Scooby Axson - Aug 15, 2012 at 6:40 PM

    The Dodgers franchise has had three against them as well. Of course, one in the World Series.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Aug 15, 2012 at 10:30 PM

      I’ve no idea why some dim-bulbs down-thumbed this fact. While still in Brooklyn they were perfectoed by Don Larsen in the ’56 Series. In ’88, Tom Browning did it to them, and in ’91 Dennis Martinez made it a hat-trick. You don’t have to like reality, but it can be helpful to accept it.

      • Steve A - Aug 15, 2012 at 10:46 PM

        Postseason games and the stats accumulated in them are separate from the regular season. Thus, Matthew’s statement is accurate.

        I didn’t put a thumb down on Scooby’s comment, so I can’t say why other did.

      • chadjones27 - Aug 16, 2012 at 8:20 AM

        Steve, not necessarily. When Halladay threw 2 no-hitters in one season people were saying how it was the first time a pitcher threw 2 no-no’s in the same season since Nolan Ryan. One of Halladay’s was his perfect game. The other was against the Reds in the playoffs.
        I guess batting and pitching stats only count in the regular season, but, odd feats like that don’t. I’m assuming things like scoreless innings or hit streaks roll through the post season as well.

  2. itsmekirill - Aug 15, 2012 at 6:40 PM

    I think it’s safe to say that the rash of perfect games and no-hitters is no longer a statistical fluke. Seems that no-hitters are more common now than complete game shutouts were just a few years ago.

    • proudlycanadian - Aug 15, 2012 at 6:57 PM

      Not a statistical fluke. There are more teams and more games being plated.

      • schlom - Aug 15, 2012 at 7:51 PM

        And less balls in play.

      • proudlycanadian - Aug 15, 2012 at 7:59 PM

        LOL! A lousy piece of typing and editing on my part. I meant played.

      • drewshawforpresident - Aug 15, 2012 at 8:17 PM

        Sure there are more teams and games now, but 6 of the 23 perfect games (or 26%) all-time have happened in the past four seasons, while baseball hasn’t expanded for 15. This isn’t even counting Armando Galarraga’s should-have-been perfecto. I definitely think this qualifies as a statistical fluke.

      • chadjones27 - Aug 16, 2012 at 8:21 AM

        Statistical fluke? Or better drug testing program?

      • stex52 - Aug 16, 2012 at 9:19 AM

        Not likely on the drug testing. If you look at who has been implicated, pitchers were just as likely to have been PED users as batters.

      • chadjones27 - Aug 16, 2012 at 9:43 AM

        stex, my comment about the drug testing is more about the additional strength of a batter. PED’s don’t really make you hit or pitch better. But, the additional strength it could give batters could mean that fly ball to the back of a warning track now makes it over the wall. Or that broken bat blooper now makes it over the infielders.

  3. theboysofdallas - Aug 15, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    This guy is an ace, get him to the Bronx

    • dugldo - Aug 15, 2012 at 6:49 PM

      Stays in Seattle

    • shawnuel - Aug 15, 2012 at 6:53 PM

      Sorry….Not gonna happen. The Giants have a suspended outfielder they’ll send ya, though. Bring back Melky!!!!!!!

  4. bigleagues - Aug 15, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    He threw about 55% off-speed stuff. This was all about pitching and not throwing a perfect game.

    I agree with Matthew – GREAT changeup today. He also made it all look so easy.

    Cain was pretty dominant in his perfecto . . . but Hernandez took it to another level today and struck out 5 of the last 6 hitters – including Sean Rodriguez looking at a called 3rd strike, perfectly placed on the lower outside corner.

  5. doctorfootball - Aug 15, 2012 at 6:58 PM

    If you’re Seattle, why not at least listen to what other teams are willing to offer? It’s not like the mariners are near contention. They have guys who can’t hit at almost every position. Even if it’s with the intention that they probably won’t trade him. See if some team will blow you away with 1 or 2 quality MLB players and 3 or 4 high end prospects? It’s probably still not equal value, but it’s not like they’re building a winner there anytime soon.

    • mordecofe - Aug 15, 2012 at 7:10 PM

      Good Q, I guess the Mariners have shown they are not afraid of trading “face of the franchise” type players with the surprising Ichiro trade, though of course he looked finished while Felix looks amazing.

      But, hypothetical: Felix for Profar/Olt/Perez. Who blinks first?

      • doctorfootball - Aug 15, 2012 at 7:39 PM

        If the Rangers are willing to include Profar, the trade might be possible. That said, it was reported that teams were willing to part the Red Sea to acquire him and the Rangers said he was untouchable. But who knows if they’d change their minds for King Felix.

      • pound30 - Aug 15, 2012 at 7:47 PM

        I kind of wonder if you could make it Endrus / Olt / Perez. I don’t know but I would think it sounds a little bit more valuable in a way. Profar is supposed to be better than Andrus and he has more years locked which Elvis doesn’t. That’s giving the farm though. Kind of hard to do for one pitcher who is going to command top dollar in the long run anyways. Just thinking of the $ side of it. Probably stupid. I wouldn’t do it either way to be honest.

      • pound30 - Aug 15, 2012 at 7:48 PM

        Can’t believe I misspelled Andrus

    • hittfamily - Aug 15, 2012 at 7:13 PM

      Jurickson, Olt, Feliz, and Holland. Seattle gets a monster deal, and Texas is an absolute lock to win a title.

    • Reflex - Aug 15, 2012 at 8:14 PM

      The answer is that Felix is still young. Very young. There is zero reason to believe that he will not be with them and still in his prime by the next time the M’s are competitive. Unless they plan to not be competitive in the next five years, there is no reason to deal Felix, nothing they get back can be as valuable.

      They have a number of young stud pitchers in their farm system, including three different guys who would be number one pitching prospects in most other organizations. That is where they should deal from in order to acquire more good young hitting. The M’s are excellent at developing young pitching, but hitting has always been a challenge. Dealing from that strength, as they did with the Lee and Pineda trades, is the correct strategy. Dealing off Felix would set them back, not forward.

    • swyrlpr - Aug 16, 2012 at 3:20 PM

      Guys that can’t hit at almost every position?

      Have you looked at the roster? Seager is one of the league leaders in RBI’s, Ackley hit over .400 twice in college, both are just second year players.

      Montero was the most highly touted hitter in the Yankees farms system last year.

      The team has an average age of 26 years old, they are young and on the rise.

      In addition, the Mariners have 3 of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball right now destroying the minors.

      They have the pieces in place to be a contender as soon as next season.

  6. denny65 - Aug 15, 2012 at 7:04 PM

    Awesomeness, thy name is Felix! A true performance for the ages.

  7. randygnyc - Aug 15, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    In his interview after the perfecto, Felix said that ever since “Phil Hughes” threw one against his team, he’s wanted to do it himself. I guess he wasn’t perfect afterall (jk). Congrats to King Felix!!

    • Steve A - Aug 15, 2012 at 10:50 PM

      That’s what happens when you have the DH and pitchers don’t bat. They don’t need to care about opposing pitchers!

      I keed, I keed. I love the DH.

  8. gotampabay52 - Aug 15, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    What does it take to fire a hitting coach. We have been no hit twice now perfect game in the last three years. oh well back to back years better then the redsox

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Aug 15, 2012 at 10:40 PM

      If you are talking about the Rays, they have been on the wrong end of three (3) perfect games and one other no-hitter in the last 37 months. On the bright side, Matt Garza did pitch a no-no for them in 2010.

      • raysfan1 - Aug 15, 2012 at 11:09 PM

        They were also the first team since the dead ball era to reach the post season the same year as getting no hit twice.

        The Rays have gone for defense over offense, but they have some holes that have to be fixed. #1 to me is a first baseman who produces runs.

  9. raysfan1 - Aug 15, 2012 at 10:12 PM

    It’s too bad he just doesn’t know how to win.

    • raysfan1 - Aug 16, 2012 at 8:14 PM

      I wonder if the thumbs down are aware the above was a joke.

  10. vegagreenleaf - Aug 15, 2012 at 11:30 PM

    Awesome! Great work, Felix!

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