27 up, 27 down. In case you spent today away from any information source, then you’re just finding this out—Felix Hernandez threw a perfect game in a 1-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
This is the first time this has happened with a Mariners pitcher in the organization’s 35 year history, the 4th Mariner no-hitter, and the first time two perfect games were thrown in one stadium in the same year (this one, you can imagine, Mariner fans enjoy a great deal more). This isn’t what this little column is about, however.
Felix Hernandez has now solidified himself as one of the best three pitchers in baseball.
Take a look at his stats; he’s first in shutouts, second in innings pitched, second in wins above replacement, fifth in strikeouts, fifth in complete games, sixth in batting average against, tenth in ERA. There are extremely few categories where you find Felix out of the upper tiers in pitching, and he’s been doing it for years now.
He’s thrown for 200+ innings four years running, and struck out 200+ three years running. With performances like tonight, he shows no signs of slowing down.
He’s a Cy Young winner, a perennial Cy Young contender, who now has a perfect game on his resume. He displayed his brilliance on the mound with perfection tonight, but has shown it in other one-hit and two-hit dominations of teams in years past. He’s one of forty-three pitchers in major league history to throw an immaculate inning, and has previously been working on two no-hitters through seven innings. He’s the only pitcher I’ve ever heard of who lost 10 games in a season in which his offense was either shut out, or only scored one run (which of course happened in the Mariners embarrassing 2010 campaign).
The other, non-stat related thing? He’s a total class act. “This is for you guys,” he said to the Safeco crowd after completing arguably the most difficult task in baseball. He also made a point to thank his catcher, John Jaso for being “unreal” in the job of calling a game. Felix Hernandez is as good as he is, and while it goes to so many players’ heads (Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds, for example), Felix remains one of the most humble in the game.
So with apologies to David Price, Matt Cain, RA Dickey, CC Sabathia, Roy Halladay, Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Jake Peavy, and with the acknowledgement that Jared Weaver and Justin Verlander are right there with him, Felix Hernandez is undoubtedly in the top three pitchers in the game right now. There is no denying it.
All Hail The King.