All hail the King!
In this case, of course, I am referring to “King” Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners who brilliantly tossed the precedent-setting third perfect game of the 2012 season on Wednesday, August 15th against the visiting Tampa Bay Rays. Thanks to MLB Network, viewers from around the country were able to partake in the last several innings (MLB Network usually cuts to in-game coverage of progressing no-hitters and perfect games once they’re in the sixth inning or so.) on a sun-splashed day in the Emerald City with the roof gloriously open at Safeco Field. The Rays’ Jeremy Hellickson pitched a pretty fine game himself, but Jesus Montero singled home Brendan Ryan in the bottom of the third inning, set up by Ryan singling, stealing second base, and advancing to third on a wild pitch. A crowd of just under 22,000 saw the M’s make that one run stand up, lending doubt to the outcome as the drama advanced.
It was the third perfect game of the season, Chicago White Sox Philip Humber and San Francisco’s Matt Cain notching theirs in April and June respectively, setting 2012 apart from all others. Only 1880 when Worcester’s Lee Richmond and Providence’s Monte Ward tossed perfectos five days apart in the middle of June, and much more recently in 2010 when Oakland’s Dallas Braden and Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay repeated the feat twenty days apart in May have any seasons seen even two such gems. It was 34 years between Chicago’s Charlie Robertson’s mastery of Detroit in 1922 and Don Larsen’s brilliant 1956 World Series Game Six victory over Brooklyn (which must occupy a special place). It was 84 years between the two initial perfect games in the National League (when the rules were substantially different than today), and Philadelphia’s Jim Bunning throwing a Father’s Day masterpiece at New York.
So twenty-three such historic achievements over the 137-year history of the professional game, and five of them have occurred in just the past three years. Truly, we are living in a Pitcher’s Era.
But ah the poor hitters…while the Giants have basked in the glow of Cain’s perfect game, they also profited from a fortuitous trade for outfielder Melky Cabrera in the post-season. The Giants obtained Cabrera, who had a career-salvaging 2011 season in Kansas City for the talented-yet-enigmatic lefthander Jonathan Sanchez (since dumped by the Royals). The Melk Man has had a breakout season with the Giants, among the league leaders in most offensive categories, winner of the All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award, and setting himself up for a major payday as he enters free agency in the off-season. All for naught, as this week he was slapped with a 50-game suspension by MLB for excessive testosterone. Ah the poor hitters…