The first season in MLB history to see 3 perfect games is 2012. You never know what you’re going to see when you attend a baseball game. On August 15th in Seattle, Felix Hernandez treated the fans to perfection. What an incredible performance. Dominant doesn’t even begin to describe his performance on Wednesday. He had all 5 of his pitches working to perfection, literally.
On the 27th batter, after retiring the first 26, Felix fell behind 2-0. Instead of piping a fastball down the middle (like most pitchers do in that situation), he tossed a slider on the outside corner of the plate – swing and a miss, strike 1. He followed that up with another breaking ball that catches the black on the outside corner – strike 2. Now with the count at 2-2, he hurls a circle change-up on the inside corner – strike 3 looking – Perfect Game. That history-making strikeout was a microcosm of his entire outing and it epitomized how perfect he was that day. He could have put the ball wherever he wanted and he did just that on that final pitch. Just like the game, that pitch was perfect. Watch the final at bat below.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There is a certain level excitement that builds around a perfect game/no-hitter that is unlike anything else in sports. It starts around the 5th inning and everyone in the park begins to anticipate the history. By the 9th inning, everyone is on their feet and there is an energy that you simply can’t find during a regular season game of any other sport. People have argued that the perfect game/no-hitter is a “lightning in a bottle” type of accomplishment and is more luck than skill. Anyone who holds this opinion should watch Felix’s performance and then try to tell me that it was a lucky accomplishment.
This has been a historic year for pitching. 3 perfect games and 3 no-hitters and I have thoroughly enjoyed each one. If given the choice, I would watch a dominant pitching performance over an amazing hitting display every time. While I appreciated Josh Hamilton’s 4 HR game earlier this season, there is something about a pitcher carving up an order that is a lot more entertaining to me.
Felix’s perfect game was the 23rd in MLB history and there have now been 6 perfect games since 2009. He is the youngest pitcher to throw a perfect game since Mike Witt in 1984. The Rays have now been no-hit 4 times since 2009. For some perspective, no other team has been no-hit more than once during that span.
I’m grateful I got to witness Felix’s gem. This has been a tremendous baseball season with some memorable moments and I know there will be more to come. The 2nd wild card will provide do-or-die moments before the division series’ even get under way. If there’s one thing that yesterday reiterated – it’s that baseball never disappoints.
For more on Felix’s perfecto, Jonah Keri wrote a fantastic article on Grantland that is worth a read.