Felix Hernandez has thrown the 23rd perfect game in Major League Baseball history, retiring all 27 batters faced in the Seattle Mariners' 1-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in a matinee at Safeco Field.
King Felix finished the game with 12 strikeouts, eight of which came after the fifth inning. The 26-year-old right-handed pitcher struck out the side in the sixth and the eighth. He threw 77 of his 113 pitches for strikes as he cut through the Rays' lineup.
"I don't have any words to explain this," Hernandez said on the field while addressing the fans after game, via ESPN.com. "I've been working so hard to throw one and today is for you guys."
With the first 26 Rays batters turned away, Sean Rodriguez stood in against Hernandez. After falling behind 2-0 on a cut fastball and a slider, per MLB Gameday, Hernandez coaxed a swinging strike from the Rays' third baseman. Rodriguez never even offered at the two nasty change-ups that capped Hernandez' historic outing.
"He never did struggle. He kept making good pitches the whole way through," Mariners catcher Jason Jaso said after the game, per The Associated Press. "The last at-bat of the game, falling down 2-0, he just kept his confidence. It was great."
In a game between two anemic offenses ranked in the bottom-third in batting average and runs (and most everything else) in the AL, the lone run of the game came in the home third. After a wild pitch by Tampa Bay starter Jermey Hellickson advanced Brendan Ryan to third, designated hitter Jesus Montero drove him in with a single to left.
Hernandez's gem is the third perfect game of the season, with Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants and Philip Humber of the Chicago White Sox twirling perfectos previously in 2012. For the Mariners, Hernandez' gem is the second no-hitter of the season, with Kevin Millwood and five other pitchers completing a combined no-no against the Los Angeles Dodgers in June.
With Humber's perfect game also coming in Seattle, Safeco Field has been the site of three of the six no-hitters during the 2012 season. This is the first year ever there have been three perfect games thrown in a single season. There were very nearly three perfect games thrown in 2010 but a missed call at first base kept Armando Gallaraga from joining the fraternity of perfect pitchers that season along with Roy Halladay and Dallas Braden. The 2010 season was widely hailed as a "Year Of The Pitcher" on par with 1968 and the Cy Young winner in the American League that year was none other than King Felix.