By Shannon Drayer
Exactly one year has passed since Felix Hernandez threw his perfect game. One year ago, if you were one of the nearly 22,000 fans who were lucky enough to be in attendance at a sun drenched Safeco Field, you witnessed a piece of Mariners history. Twenty-seven up, 27 down and then an emotional celebration on the field.
“That day was perfect,” Hernandez said this week. “I don’t think of something else. Every time I jump on the mound I just try a no-hitter or perfect game. It is always on my mind. I am not going to forget that day.”
Someone else who will not forget that day is Yoervis Medina. You may have seen the video of the Double-A Jackson Generals celebrating along with Felix as the feed for the Mariners game was piped into the big screen at The Ballpark at Jackson while they warmed up.
“The guys were watching in center field. Moises, his brother, was happy, all the guys were jumping in center field,” said Medina, who has never been shy about saying that Felix is his baseball idol. “Me and Moises had a couple of tears because in Venezuela? This guy, throws a perfect game, it was so good.”
Brad Miller was there as well.
“It was pretty sweet,” Miller said. “We were taking BP and I was done. I was out in the outfield and we were just watching and everything stopped. Just seeing how into it Moises was was so cool. And yeah, he did it, and we just went crazy.”
Mariners fans went crazy as Felix celebrated on the field that day. His wife and children were on a rare trip home to Venezuela so Felix had plenty of time later that night to attend to the hundreds of texts he received. One of the first he got was from Blue Jays pitcher Mark Buehrle, who has a perfect game and a no-hitter on his resume.
“I was surprised,” Felix said. “That was pretty nice. I heard he was a good guy.”
No doubt that text was all about welcoming him to the club. On Sunday, as the Mariners flew to Tampa, Felix was keeping an eye on the Rangers game and Yu Darvish, who came within five outs of throwing a no-hitter.
“I was hoping he could do it,” Felix said.
As for another perfect game or no-hitter, Felix says that he has had that same feeling about his stuff since that day a year ago.
“I had pretty good stuff the other day against Milwaukee but things have got to happen,” he said. “Sometimes you give up a base hit in the eighth or seventh, like Darvish on Sunday. He was throwing a no-hitter and then [allowed] the homer. You have got to be on the right day in the right position.”
He has had that stuff quite a bit this year. As good as he was a year ago, the numbers show he is slightly better now. Chances are he will finish better than 2012 as unlike last year he shows no signs of slowing down. After the perfecto, Felix went on to make eight starts and in that time he put up a 4.67 ERA with opponents hitting .308 against him. Right now he is on pace to match or better his numbers from 2010, the year he won the Cy Young.
In any start Felix makes there is a chance that we could see something special. This year the special just might come after the season.