Felix’s perfecto was preordained

Aug 15, 2012, 10:26 PM | Updated: Aug 16, 2012, 8:32 am
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Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez throws against Tampa Bay in the fourth inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012, in Seattle. Hernandez tossed a perfect game in the Mariners 1-0 win. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

By Mike Salk

This was bound to happen eventually.

When Philip Humber threw a perfect game, it was quirky. Mariners fans took it as a personal affront that their team had been perfectoed. It makes sense: Humber has a career ERA of 4.64 and he’s done that with four teams in seven years. In short: He wasn’t exactly a threat to throw a complete game let alone a perfect one. Actually, it is the only complete game he has ever thrown in the majors.

When Felix Hernandez threw a perfect game, it was pre-ordained.

No, not in a religious sense. I’m not sure it was fate or even destiny.

But when you are as good as Felix is, a perfect game is always a possibility.

He made it a reality.

He did everything perfectly on Wednesday. He needed just seven pitches in the first inning, ten in the second and seven more in the third. He spotted his fastball well. His curveball was an unhittable out-pitch. His changeup kept lefties off balance. His two-seamer got plenty of outs on balls hit weakly in play.

He was able to throw any pitch on any count and in any location.

There were two pitches that stood out to me. In the eighth, he got behind Carlos Pena 1-0. He then threw a curveball that broke down and into the feet of the left-handed hitter. Pena swung over the top of it. An inning later, he struck out Desmond Jennings, a righty, with a changeup low and inside.

These are not pitches you see often. Most pitchers rely on breaking balls that fall away from hitters. Felix was so confident in his movement and location, that he could throw both pitches to righties or lefties. That is rare.

But to be honest, he wasn’t that much better than usual.

Three years ago, I realized that Felix shared something in common with the best pitcher I have ever seen: Pedro Martinez. At the time, I wrote :

“Felix has reached the point where it feels weird every time he isn’t perfect. Where each hit is frustrating and each walk is almost shocking. And the last pitcher I’ve felt that way about was Pedro Martinez.”

Now I realize that he shares something else with Pedro. Both pitchers are not only dominant, but they are so fun to watch, that you find yourself taking bathroom breaks while your team is up to bat! Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux were both exquisite pitchers in their prime, but neither had the fun-factor nor the charisma that Pedro had or that Felix has currently.

That said, as good as Pedro was, he never completed a no hitter, let alone a perfect game. Just like with Felix, you knew he was a threat to throw one every time he took the mound. But it never happened. Even when they seem destined, they can be elusive.

Three years ago I wrote that Felix “might be the next Pedro.” With the perfecto already under his belt, that might be underselling him.

You might also be interested in:

Shannon Drayer: Felix Hernandez finds perfection at Safeco Field

Listen: Felix Hernandez on the field following his perfect game

Photos: Felix throws 1st perfect game for M’s

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