BY SPNW Staff 03:29PM 08/15/2012

Perfection At Safeco! King Felix Makes History

Felix Hernandez fanned 12 batters in his perfect game, becoming just the fourth perfect-game pitcher to whiff a dozen or more in such a classic performance.

Felix Hernandez made baseball and Mariners history Wednesday afternoon by throwing the 23rd perfect game in a 1-0 Seattle victory over Tampa Bay. / Getty Images

No matter how many more times Felix Hernandez takes the mound in his major league career, he will never wear the title “King Felix” more regally than he did Wednesday against Tampa Bay. On a perfect Seattle afternoon at Safeco Field, the 26-year-old Hernandez tossed the 23nd perfect game in major league history, defeating the Rays in a 1-0 baseball and Mariners classic.

Hernandez’s perfect game is the first in franchise history, the club’s third no-hitter and the second perfect game at Safeco Field this season, following Philip Humber’s perfecto April 21 for the Chicago White Sox against Seattle. The Mariners are the first team in major league history to get “perfec-toed” and throw a perfect game in the same season.

“I don’t have any words to explain this,” Hernandez said immediately after the game. “After Philip Humber threw one at us, I knew I have to throw one. I just have to. So this is for you guys (Seattle fans).”

Hernandez, who threw 113 pitches, 77 for strikes, admitted that he thought about the perfect game throughout the contest.

“It was in my mind the whole game,” said Hernandez. “When I came out in the ninth, I was nervous, but I just had to make good pitches. (John) Jaso (his catcher) did an unbelievable job. He called an unbelievable game.”

“I thought that if we could get through six innings, we’d cruise,” said Jaso. “Felix never struggled. He kept making his pitches the whole game. His curve was hard, with such a big break. A human being can’t hit that. But with the stuff Felix has, you sometimes feel like something like this is inevitable. The guy deserved the odds to fall in his favor today.”

Hernandez, with three complete-game shutouts since June, including a two-hit shutout at Yankee Stadium two starts ago, entered the ninth inning with 10 strikeouts. With 21,889 fans on their feet, wild with anticipation, Hernandez first faced pinch hitter Desmond Jennings. On a 1-and-2 count, Hernandez fooled Jennings with a changeup for his 11th strikeout and out No. 1.

The next Rays hitter, Jeff Keppinger, looked at ball one, watched a nasty slider go by him for strike one, and then swung at and missed a high fastball for strike two. On the next pitch, Hernandez induced Keppinger to hit a ground ball out to shortstop Brendan Ryan, who fielded it cleanly for out No. 2.

The last chance, .206-hitting Sean Rodriguez, the No. 9 hitter, looked at a ball. Hernandez  missed outside for ball two, then walked around the mound. He blew a slider past Rodriguez to make it 2-and-1, then a breaking ball for strike two. Then, a called third strike. Out No. 3. Perfect game.

Hernandez fanned five of the last six batters, finishing with 12 K’s, as the Mariners won their 16th series of the season.

Seattle scored its only run in the third inning on an RBI single by Jesus Montero that plated Brendan Ryan.

Randy Johnson threw the first no-hitter in Mariners history June 2, 1990 against Detroit in the Kingdome. Chris Bosio followed with a no-hitter against Boston April 22, 1993.

“Felix is so good, but today is a special day,” said manager Eric Wedge. “You’ve got to have a little bit of luck, but when it comes to Felix, no doubt he has great talent, but he brings a lot of intangibles. He just has a great deal of confidence in his stuff. You knew he was feeling it and was going to work to finish it off.

“It’s exciting for Felix, for his teammates, for the fans that were here, or watching on TV. That’s an excitement you don’t get to feel on a consistent basis.”

Hernandez is just the fourth pitcher to record a dozen strikeouts in a perfect game. Asked after the contest what he could do for an encore, Hernandez said, “Playoffs. We go to the playoffs.”

Modern-Era Perfect Games

Date Pitcher Team Opponent Pitches K’s
May 5, 1904 Cy Young Americans Athletics NA 8
Oct. 2, 1908 Addie Joss Indians White Sox 74 3
April 30, 1922 Charlie Robertson White Sox Tigers 90 6
Oct. 8, 1956 Don Larsen Yankees Dodgers 97 7
June 21, 1964 Jim Bunning Phillies Mets 90 10
Sept. 9, 1965 Sandy Koufax Dodgers Cubs 113 14
May 8, 1968 Catfish Hunter Athletics Twins 107 11
May 15, 1981 Len Barker Indians Blue Jays 103 11
Sept. 30, 1984 Mike Witt Angels Rangers 94 10
Sept. 16, 1988 Tom Browning Reds Dodgers 100 7
July 28, 1991 Dennis Martinez Expos Dodgers 95 5
July 28, 1994 Kenny Rogers Rangers Angels 98 8
May 17, 1998 David Wells Yankees Twins 120 11
July 18, 1999 David Cone Yankees Expos 88 10
May 18, 2004 Randy Johnson D-Backs Braves 117 13
July 23, 2009 Mark Buehrle White Sox Rays 116 6
May 9, 2010 Dallas Braden Athletics Rays 109 6
May 29, 2010 Roy Halladay Phillies Marlins 115 11
April 21, 2012 Philip Humber White Sox Mariners 96 9
June 13, 2012 Matt Cain Giants Astros 125 14
Aug. 15, 2012 Felix Hernandez Mariners Rays 113 12


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