A perfect game is among the most elusive — and thus impressive — feats in all of sports. So the fact that Felix Hernandez just retired all 27 batters he faced in a 1-0 Mariners victory over the Tampa Bay Rays is remarkable in and of itself, but the way it went down is even more insane. The first perfect game in the history of the Mariners organization was, if possible, almost anticlimactic. That’s how good Hernandez was today.
For starters, Rays batters hit a grand total of five balls into the air. Typically there’s a moment in every perfect game where a fielder makes a remarkable throw, or catch, or dive, to get a guy out who probably shouldn’t have been. But Felix didn’t need luck or help: he threw 113 pitches, 77 for strikes. He never needed more than 16 pitches in an inning, and had 12 strikeouts. It’s as dominant a performance as you’ll ever see from a pitcher.
On the flip side, this is becoming way too normal for the Rays. They’ve been the victims of three perfect games in the last four years, and given that there have only been 23 perfect games in the hundred-plus-year history of baseball, that definitely qualifies as a rough streak. It’s particularly odd for it to be such a good team, too — no one would be surprised if the Astros were dominated like that, but the Rays are perennial contenders.
You could make the case that a perfect game doesn’t mean what it used to — sure, there have only been 23 all-time, but there have been three just this season and it does seem like the frequency is rising. But for now, it’s still a heck of an achievement, and I’ve never seen it done in such dominating fashion.