felix hernandez pitched the seattle mariners' first perfect game & the 23rd in baseball history, overpowering the tampa bay rays in a brilliant 1-0 victory wednesday afternoon. the 2010 cy young award winner has never hid his desire for pitching perfection. for a franchise on its way to 11 straight seasons without a playoff appearance, hernandez is the one constant keeping fans interested in mariners baseball.
"it was always on my mind, every game, i need to throw a perfect game. for every pitcher i think it's in their mind," said hernandez after reflecting on his historic achievement. "today it happened & it's something special. i don't have any words to explain this. this is pretty amazing. this doesn't happen every day," said the talented right-hander.
hernandez is revered in the pacific northwest, not only for his magnanimous performances on the mound, but for his willingness to stay in one of the smaller market cities. although he could easily have waited & sought a bigger payday with, perhaps, the angels, rangers or yankees, king felix humbly signed an extension two years ago which will keep him a happy seattle mariner through 2014.
riding down in a crowded elevator after the game, seattle general manager jack zduriencik jokingly held his cellphone to his ear & said, "no, we're not trading felix." mariners catcher john saso said, "it almost seems like a matter of time before this happens...a little dribbler here or something it's ruined, but his competitive attitude & competitive mind he brings out to the mound each time he pitches, you know you have a guy out there who's going to give you a chance to win."
hernandez threw the third perfect game in baseball this season - a first in mlb history - joining gems by philip humber of the chicago white sox against the mariners in april, along with matt latos of the san francisco giants against the houston astros in june. more than half of all perfect games, 12, have come in the last 25 seasons.
this was also the sixth no-hitter in the majors this season, three of them at safeco field. on june 8 six mariner pitchers held the los angeles dodgers hitless in seattle. there have been seven no-hitters in a season twice since 1900. the first time was in 1990, then again the following year, with nolan ryan throwing two of them.
hernandez's dominance got stronger as the game progressed. he cruised for five innings, then pitched through tough at-bats, delay tactics & mounting pressure of perfection to close out the gem. hernandez fanned 12 batters, including eight in the final four innings. he struck out the side in the sixth, did it again in the eighth, while clocking 95 mph in the ninth.
two starts earlier against the yankees, hernandez tossed a two-hit shutout, which seattle manager eric wedge called the finest outing he's ever seen from his all-star pitcher. "it was special. he had special stuff," said wedge. "but felix is so consistently good that when he does take it up to another level, which we've seen him do through the course of the year, you never know how it's going to turn out," wedge said.
hernandez has now struck out 10 or more batters in a game for the fifth time this season. most of his outs were on the infield. there were only five fly ball outs. after another outstanding game his battery mate saso said, "you could throw any lineup out there today & it's close to the same result." his record is now 11-5 for the year.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.