Felix Hernandez pitched the 23rd perfect game in Major League Baseball history and the third this season as the Seattle Mariners defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 1-0.
It’s the first time three perfect games have been thrown in a major league season. Chicago White Sox right-hander Philip Humber pitched one April 22 -- in Seattle -- and Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants achieved the feat June 13.
Hernandez struck out 12 of the 27 batters he faced yesterday at Safeco Field in Seattle to improve to 11-5 this season. The three-time All-Star and winner of the 2010 Cy Young Award as the best pitcher in the American League raised his arms and kissed his right hand before being mobbed by his teammates after he struck out Sean Rodriguez to end the game.
“It’s always on my mind in every game -- I need to throw a perfect game,” Hernandez told reporters. “For every pitcher I think it’s in his mind. It’s something special.”
Dallas Braden of the Oakland Athletics and Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies threw perfect games in 2010. Lee Richmond threw the first perfect game on June 12, 1880, and John Ward got the second five days later. It was another 24 years before Cy Young recorded the third in major league history.
“Felix had great command of all his pitches all day long,” Seattle catcher John Jaso told reporters.
Jesus Montero’s third-inning single scored Brendan Ryan for the only run of the game.
It’s the fourth no-hitter in Mariners history and the second this season. Kevin Millwood and five Mariner relievers combined to no-hit the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers on June 8. The Mariners’ previous no-hitters were thrown by Chris Bosio in a 2-0 win over Boston on April 22, 1993, and Randy Johnson in a 2-0 shutout against Detroit on June 2, 1990.
Hernandez is the second pitcher born in Latin America to throw a perfect game after Dennis Martinez, a Nicaraguan who pitched one for the Montreal Expos against the Dodgers in 1991.
The Rays have now given up three perfect games to tie the Dodgers for the MLB record. Braden’s perfect game two seasons ago was against Tampa Bay and Mark Buehrle also threw one against the Rays on July 23, 2009.
Also this season, Johan Santana of the New York Mets pitched a no-hitter June 1, the first in the team’s history, and Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels threw one May 2.
Texas Rangers President and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan holds the major league record with seven no-hitters.
The San Diego Padres are the only major league team not to have thrown a no-hitter.