August 15, 2012

Perfect! Mariners' Felix Hernandez : Whenever Felix Hernandez takes the mound, the possibility of seeing something special, of witnessing immortality, is always lurking. On Wednesday, on a brilliantly sunny day, that possibility became reality, as Hernandez threw the 23rd perfect game in major-league history, and the first in Mariners history. "I don't have any words to explain this," Hernandez said in a TV interview after the game. "I've got to throw one. I've been working so hard to throw one, and I got it. It was in my mind the whole game."

posted by tommytrump to baseball at 06:24 PM - 17 comments

Since the Rays have come into existence (1998), they've had 3 perfect games (this one and two others) and two other no-hitters thrown against them. No other team has had 2 perfect games against them in that time, and only Atlanta (2), Baltimore (2), Houston (2), Minnesota (2), and San Diego (3) have had multiple instances of no-hitters against them.

posted by grum@work at 06:59 PM on August 15

Three perfect games in a year. Two perfect games at Safeco Field in this season. Out of the 21 in the last 108 years, 6 have come in the past 4 seasons.

posted by yerfatma at 07:33 PM on August 15

Yeah, that's crazy, especially considering between 1999 and 2009, only one perfect game was thrown.

I looked at the stats for the start after the perfect game, and the average start for the last 10 el perfectos was:

6IP, 6.1H, 4.2R, 3.7ER, 2.2BB, 4.9K.

So most of these guys don't stay perfect for long.

Incidentally, in looking up perfect games, in the modern era with pitch counts included, David Cone's 1999 perfect game was the most efficient. He threw 68 of 88 pitches (77%) for strikes. Mark Beurhle, on the other side of things, threw 76 of 116 (65.5%) for strikes in his perfect game. Matt Cain threw the most pitches at 125.

posted by dfleming at 08:55 PM on August 15

For me, the most telling moment was during the postgame interview, when Hernandez said something like "When Phil Hughes... erm Phil whatshisname? ... when he threw the perfect game earlier this season, I knew I had to do it too".

What does it say about baseball (about the Mariners, perhaps?) when the unknown Phil Humber throws a perfect game, is quickly forgotten, and is eventually dropped from the starting rotation? It is strange, and I think a bit of a shame, that the luster of no-hitters and perfect games is now being tainted by their proliferation.

posted by geneparmesan at 12:16 AM on August 16

I think it's a bit much to say that perfect games are tainted because they happens so often.

Considering there were spans of 24, 14, 34, and 23 years in between perfect games, I don't understand why a sudden influx of them can't be considered anything more than random chance.

Just like:

- 4 of the last 5 have been on the west coast (Oakland, Seattle, SF).
- This is the first perfect game ever thrown in the month of August.

And if you're lamenting "unknown" pitchers now throwing perfect games, go take a look at the records for Mike Witt, Len Barker, and Charlie Robertson.

posted by grum@work at 01:42 AM on August 16

And to be fair, Phil Hughes is a real pitcher; Felix had just thrown a perfect game, was probably head-in-clouds, and got a wire crossed. I mix up names all the time too.

Also, I think a fair number of no-hitters are thrown by also-rans; it shows how no-hitters and perfect games are as much an element of luck as anything else. While the great pitchers sometimes "get" their no-hitter on the career achievement list, a lot of Hall of Fame pitchers never do (though most have a close call). You'll have guys like Bobo Holloman get one in his first career start... and only pitch one season in the majors, going 3-7.

I don't think they're tainted at all; they are still amazing achievements.

posted by hincandenza at 02:32 AM on August 16

It is strange, and I think a bit of a shame, that the luster of no-hitters and perfect games is now being tainted by their proliferation.

I dunno. If you've ever done sports trivia, it adds to the degree of difficulty.

posted by dfleming at 06:30 AM on August 16

This is something I posted on another site.

Going through the BBRef leaderboards, and at least 10 seasons pitching, starters only...

Top pitchers to NOT get a no-hitter

All-time: Roger Clemens
Active: Andy Pettitte

All-time: Mordecai Brown
Active: Tim Hudson

All-time: Pete Alexander
Active: Jamie Moyer

All-time: Don Sutton
Active: Jamie Moyer

All-time: Steve Carlton
Active: Jamie Moyer

All-time: Pedro Martinez
Active: Jake Peavy

When you figure that 3 of the 4 greatest pitchers of this era (Clemens, Maddux, Martinez) never threw a no-hitter, you begin to realize that it has always been kind of random.

posted by grum@work at 08:22 AM on August 16

Although technically, Martinez threw a perfect 9 innings in 1995, but was relieved in the 10th after giving up a double (his replacement retired the side). I don't recall if it was a perfect game that was then retroactively removed by a rule change, or if it came after the modern definition, but there are a few games that would have been perfect under prior definitions.

Because if I can't be pedantic with grum, who can I be pedantic with? :)

posted by hincandenza at 03:59 PM on August 16

Perfect games and No-hitters: An official perfect game occurs when a pitcher (or pitchers) retires each batter on the opposing team during the entire course of a game, which consists of at least nine innings. In a perfect game, no batter reaches any base during the course of the game.

That's from here.

According to Wikipedia, the rule was established in 1991.

That means Pedro Martinez never officially threw a no-hitter at any time.

Nobody out-pedantics me!

posted by grum@work at 04:40 PM on August 16

Damned Bip Roberts! I feel like he was the greatest no-hitter killer. Of course, old friend Carl Everett broke up Mussina's 8 2/3 inning perfecto.

posted by yerfatma at 06:04 PM on August 16

I strongly encourage you all to read this fabulous story about a three year old's first baseball game. This one, to be specific.

posted by Joey Michaels at 05:31 AM on August 17

Well it's all downhill from there then.

posted by yerfatma at 10:58 AM on August 17

My oldest son's first baseball game was Game 3 of the 2006 World Series. Of course, he was 10 months old and more or less slept through the whole thing. But he can check that off his bucket list.

One of my wife's friends from high school left David Cone's 1999 perfect game in the seventh inning because there had been a (relatively short) rain delay and she had somewhere else to be later that day. Some sort of privileges/fan card should be permanently revoked for that.

posted by holden at 11:43 AM on August 17

You should be obligated to tell the story to anyone within handshake range at any future sporting event.

posted by yerfatma at 12:37 PM on August 17

Just to clarify, I phrased something poorly there. By "This One" I was referring to "the first game the lad in the story saw was the very game we're discussing in this thread." Reading it now, I think it might have come across as "ME! I WAS THAT FATHER AND KID," which isn't the case at all. I just liked the story.

That said, I agree that Slarty Bartfast (the pseudonym of the dude who shared that story) is not only obligated to tell that story to everyone forever, when his son has a three year old and takes him to his first game, he's obligated to tell us all so we can go watch the inevitable no-hitter.

posted by Joey Michaels at 02:39 PM on August 17

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