My last retro diary can be found here, of my first Mariners no-hitter.
I’ve seen the ends of perfect games, whenever ESPN would cut in, at a bar last Wednesday, whathaveyou. But, I’ve never seen one all the way through. I was thankfully out of town when Phil Humber did it to the M’s earlier this year. So, this DVR replay is my first opportunity.
Since time is irrelevant when you’re talking about DVR replays (it is 8:11am as of this sentence, on Saturday morning), I’ll denote time by how many outs there are in the game. Without further ado.
Rubber match. Rays won the first, Mariners won the second.
Top First, One Out:
Man, that was certainly a well-stroked first out. Not a difficult catch, but still, wouldn’t lead you to believe we’d be looking at a perfect game.
Top First, Two Out:
And, a nice dig by Smoak! Brendan Ryan’s throws are usually better than that. Ragged way to open the game.
Top First, Three Out:
Ball pounded hard into the ground to Ackley. One, two, three.
Looks like Hellickson owns the Mariners. Great.
Top Second, One Out:
First strikeout, by Longoria. Out in front of a curve. No chance.
This game is moving QUICK. With the DVR fast-forwarding and all the consecutive outs, I should be finished with this in another 20 minutes or so.
Top Second, Two Out:
The shift. Ryan, on the other side of the bag, easily throws Zobrist out.
Top Second, Three Out:
First pitch fastball swinging, easy fly out to left. For as tricky that first inning was, the second inning was as non-eventful.
One hit in the first, erased by a double play. Hellickson seeing the minimum thus far.
Dan Wilson doing color commentary sounds like he’s trying to not wake up a sleeping uncle laying on the couch. An animated Dan Wilson must sound like a librarian engrossed in a good book. I like the guy, but he’s got all the charisma of a conference on technical writing.
An error and a hit! The Mariners are absolutely WORKING OVER Hellickson! You don’t stand a chance, ass-eyes!
Top Third, One Out:
Being able to fast-forward Root Sports commercials is like some wonderful drug! I never want to come down!
Towering pop-up to right, another quick out for Felix.
Top Third, Two Out:
I certainly would have considered the white Felix jersey when I was looking for one, but keeping it that gleaming white would be more than my washing machine could handle.
Hmm, very nearly hit Johnson in the ankle before a strikeout on a breaking ball in the dirt. Ass sticking out, swinging it like a golf club. Looks like he hasn’t played baseball a day in his life.
Top Third, Three Out:
Another first-pitch pop-out to left. 10 pitches in the first, 7 in the second, 7 in the third.
Brendan Ryan is generally a better hitter than his batting average gives him credit for. If he could just get that average up over .220, he’d damn near be the MVP of the team! Nice single to lead off the third.
I know Dustin Ackley is going to be a good hitter, but this season has been more than a little discouraging. Sophomore slump? Good God, let’s hope so. Even if he’s just another John Olerud, I’d take it!
That’s a huge hole between first and second, Ackley. Come on, let’s do this!
… AND … he’s gone! One out.
Michael Saunders walks up to the plate with Hypnotize by the Notorious B.I.G. Still a better rapper than Tupac …
Joe Maddon looks like a tool with those white sunglasses. Here’s a photo I found, take a look. Who IS this guy???
He looks like someone you’d find standing on a front porch in only his dirty, ill-fitting tidy-whiteys with a shotgun in one hand and a Hamm’s in the other. If any image has ever screamed “Tampa” any more, I’ve never seen it.
With two outs, Brendan Ryan steals second and advances to third on a wild pitch. Then, “You Don’t Mess With The Jesus” Montero knocks a clean single into left to bring in the run! Hellickson really just gave that to us. He had no idea what Ryan was doing as he started for second, then really mangled that wild pitch. Holy shit, I never realized how close this game was to being 0-0 for all of eternity.
You know, if Felix went 27-up and 27-down and it was still 0-0, I’m pretty sure I would have gangland executed each and every one of these Mariners hitters.
Top Fourth, One Out:
Hey, Fleece Blanket Night this Friday (yesterday)! What better give-away on the hottest day of the year in the Pacific Northwest? It’s not like we could’ve used that blanket in any April, May, or June game …
Another near hit-batsman with a curve way inside to a left-handed hitter. And now a full count to Fuld … leads to a 93 mph fastball. Fuld went the other way – as he should have – but luckily it was hit right at Seager. Nothing spectacular defensively, but still very, very lucky.
Top Fourth, Two Out:
2-0 count, Upton swung at ball 3, a high fastball. Then, he swung at ball 4, a curve in the dirt. THEN, he swung at ball 5, another curve in the dirt! Thanks, Upton! You shouldn’t have! (you really shouldn’t have; I thought we promised we weren’t giving each other gifts this year …)
Top Fourth, Three Out:
Strike out, 12-up and 12-down! But, more importantly, Dan Wilson called his curveball a “dandy”. Dan Wilson said “dandy”. I know that’s not funny, you’ve got to enjoy the little things.
Hey, Melky Cabrera is in the news, have you seen this, have you heard about this? He was my 28th round pick in my fantasy baseball draft; he was my best position player. And now he’s gone. It’s a killer to the Giants offense and it’s a killer to me.
Tie goes to the runner, bitch! #KyleSeagerCalledOutAtFirst.
Smoak is not ready to be back in the Majors yet. Fucking Carp, why can’t you stay healthy so I can love you?
I want to like Trayvon Robinson, but the kid will probably never be any better than a reserve. You’d think one of these Quad-A outfielders would bust out, but you’d be sorely mistaken.
Top Fifth, One Out:
The first batter of any inning when you’ve got some form of no-no going is the scariest batter you’ll face. This inning is no different, with Longoria hitting a soft-liner up the middle that landed squarely in Ackley’s glove.
Top Fifth, Two Out:
That fastball has such crazy sink. How does anyone hit Felix ever?
Deep fly to left-center on a hanging curve; first mistake pitch I’ve seen thus far. Looks like Robinson fought the sun a little bit, but made the catch. One thing no one mentioned in the aftermath: that sun looked pretty brutal; how were there no “Sun Doubles” in this game?
Top Fifth, Three Out:
The fastball is slowly but surely increasing in velocity. Started out the game in the 90 mph range. Just hit 94 on the gun a little after 50 pitches.
Pena, breaking ball, dribbled out in front of Jaso. Easy put-out.
You know, Root Sports, no one – and I mean NO ONE – likes the behind-the-plate camera angle. It brings nothing to the table and makes it so you can’t tell if the ball was actually a ball or a strike. We’ve asked you nicely, but you just won’t listen. Don’t make me skull-fuck the stupid out of you!
Top Sixth, One Out:
Felix getting some generous outside fastball calls from the Ump against lefties. I’m not saying what Joe Maddon’s about to do is right, but it might be justified.
Strike three on a 90 mph change. A 90 mph change. It’s not necessarily the the difference in speed, but the subtle shift in movement. Just 3-4 miles per hour difference can make a hitter look absolutely silly.
Top Sixth, Two Out:
Strike one, strike two, strike three, see you later.
Top Sixth, Three Out:
Holy shit, I want to dress this sixth inning up in a pretty little skirt and finger her underneath the bleachers! You’re a dirty girl, yes you are sixth inning! A dirty girl!
That’s sort of my way of saying that Felix just struck out the side. Interesting how little emotion Felix has shown thus far. He’s really dialed in.
Starting to get bored with these Mariners hitters. Good thing they’re being considerate and not putting up much of a fight.
John Jaso is easily my favorite non-pitcher on this team. Can we lock him up and give him a 50/50 split between catching and DH’ing with Montero next year? I want him batting in every single game, is what I’m trying to say.
Top Seventh, One Out:
Fuld has easily had the best hacks in this game, but that was a weak-ass grounder to Ackley. Lots of changeups in this AB; might be an adjustment to go away from the curve, which has been so dominant thus far.
Top Seventh, Two Out:
Wow. Just, wow. Upton hit a ball. It bounced once just in front of the plate. Came up about 10 feet in the air, landed JUST underneath Seager’s glove as he fell to the ground. Fortunately, we have Brendan Ryan on our team. He’s always in the right position and this play was no different. The ball bounced to about eye-level, right into Ryan’s glove for the easy put-out. Had Seager come up with that ball, I have no doubt he has enough arm-strength to throw out the speedy Upton, but that right there was the play of the game.
Want to know why Brendan Ryan is the best defender in baseball? Check out this interview, it’s more than a little enlightening. Particularly, this quote right here:
Most of the time, I’m moving one way or the other on the pitch. Say that Vargas is pitching and it’s a cutter in to a righty. I can kind of shuffle to the right and get a head start. It’s almost like cheating. You can’t move so early that you’re giving something away, but even so, there are times where I’m almost running, because I know where that ball is going to be hit.
This play, this out right here, a little of that “cheating” was definitely going on. I mean, that’s the only way you can explain how he was so far over – almost where the third baseman would normally be positioned before the pitch – without having to completely dive to his right. Outstanding!
Top Seventh, Three Out:
95 on the gun, regularly, this inning. Fastball on the outside corner called for a strike. Close, MAYBE questionable, but looked good to me. Regardless, it wasn’t this as far as umpire blindness is concerned. Either way, here comes Joe Maddon!
Had I been watching this live, I would’ve been pissed beyond belief with Maddon trying to put the freeze on our pitcher. It’s a whole different ballgame when you already know the results of a game.
“K! K! K! K! K! K! K!” – I love the King’s Court.
96 on the gun.
3-2 ground ball to first, unassisted.
Seven strikeouts through seven for Felix. He will go on to strike out five of the final six. I have a feeling the next inning is going to have herself deflowered …
Top Eighth, One Out:
That curve is still dy-no-mite! Down goes Longoria!
Top Eighth, Two Out:
Ben Zobrist, down swinging on a change. Fans are finally starting to make a little noise outside of the King’s Court.
Top Eighth, Three Out:
Just a nasty, nasty curve. Mecha-Felix is laying these Rays to waste! He’s an unstoppable killing machine! To hell with 9, he could throw 30 perfect innings today!
Felix strikes out the side! And still, no emotion. We would normally be seeing some hoots and hollers out of him after an inning like that. On this day? Steely.
The big thing is that the Mariners have never faced David Price since he’s been called up to the Majors. We’ve played the Rays about a million times and it still hasn’t happened; what are the odds of that? I have a feeling he would just annihilate us.
With Montero at the plate, this is about where I came in. If it wasn’t 10:37am (and if I wasn’t planning on getting drunk tonight), I’d crack open a cold one and pretend it’s last Wednesday.
Top Ninth, One Out:
Jennings pinch hitting. Got a favorable second strike to get ahead in the count. 95 on the radar gun, well over 100 pitches. And a 92 mph change up knocks him out!
Top Ninth, Two Out:
Keppinger also pinch hitting. Grounder to Ryan on the 4th pitch of the at-bat.
Top Ninth, Three Out:
Sean Rodriguez, the 27th out. Felix falls behind 2-0, both outside. At this point, I read somewhere that he was considering – for a brief moment – bunting to get on base. Look, I’m usually not one for these “unwritten rules” that people like to trot out, and in my younger days I would have commended a guy like Ben Davis for doing whatever it takes to keep your team out of the record books (and, because I think Curt Schilling is a douche and I’m glad he’s out of baseball without ever having thrown a no-hitter or a perfect game). But, I mean, bunting with 2 outs in the 9th inning would be a pretty chickenshit thing to do. At that point, you just have to take your medicine and beat him fair and square. Had he bunted against Felix, I don’t think he would have made it out of Seattle alive.
Still, from what I read, once the count got to 2-0, Rodriguez decided he was likely going to get something worthwhile to hit with the next pitch. Something he could take to the gap or even over the fence. Pretty gaudy optimism for a guy batting 9th in the order. For a guy batting .206 with only 12 doubles and 6 homers at that point in his season. Really? You’re going to hit an extra-base hit off of Felix in the bottom of the 9th, 26 outs into a perfect game? Really?!
That’s when he saw a 2-0 slider, low and to the outside corner of the plate. That’s when he swung right over it. He still had the count somewhat in his favor, but he might as well have just turned around and walked back to the dugout right then and there.
Major storyline after the game was Jaso and his gameplan. Coming from the Rays’ organization, he knew their strategy on Felix: be aggressive early, go after the fastball. So, what did he do? He flipped it on them. Calling for off-speed pitches in fastball counts. Most pitchers couldn’t do that. But, Felix isn’t most pitchers.
Curveball, a yacker, on the outside edge of the plate. I’m telling you S-Rod, go sit down now! Save yourself the embarrassment!
92 mile per hour change-up on the inside corner. Felix turned around, let out a scream, and looked to the sky before the umpire had even moved a muscle. Then, he gave us this:
Felix gave us so much with his performance, but to tack on what would become a photo like this is just too much, really.
23rd perfect game in Major League Baseball. Felix Hernandez, you are truly one of the greatest.