Felix and the greatest starts in history

Aug 16, 2012, 12:14 PM | Updated: 12:14 pm

Fans in Seattle are basking in the glow of a historically dominant Felix Hernandez start against the Tampa Bay Rays. Felix was perfect. It was the twenty-third perfect game in the history of baseball. The start was so dominant that the question of where it ranks in terms of greatest start of all-time naturally emerges.

This would be a good time to go over the ground rules for the examination. Only regular season starts will be ranked here. Don Larsen, Roy Halladay, Jack Morris and others would all fly to the top if playoff games were included because of the circumstances in which they dominated. I value circumstances a great deal so postseason games would tend to overshadow the intent here. Secondly, we are only looking at games since 1918. I wanted to keep things in the modern era to make it a little easier to compare.

Here is the list of greatest regular season starts in the history of baseball since 1918:

10- Mike Witt
September 30, 1984 at Texas
Angels 1 Rangers 0
9 IP 0 H 0 R 0 ER 0 BB 10 K

It was a perfect game for Witt in Texas. The Angels squeezed out an unearned run in the 7th inning and that was all Witt needed. He struck out 10.

9- Warren Spahn
September 16, 1960 vs Philadelphia
Braves 4 Phillies 0
9 IP 0 H 0 R 0 ER 2 BB 15 K

The lefty won his 20th game in style as he kept the Phillies hitless. Bases on balls to Cal Neeman and Ken Walters were the only things separating Spahn from perfection. It was the second highest K total for a no-hitter in baseball history.

8- Walter Johnson
May 11, 1919 vs New York
Senators 0-0 Yankees
12 IP 2 H 0 R 0 ER 1 BB 9 K

It was not perfection, but only yielding 2 singles and a walk in 12 innings is amazing. Jack Quinn went 12 for the Yankees as well and the game ended in a 0-0 tie. How long could Johnson have gone without giving up a run in this one?

7- Matt Cain
June 13, 2012 vs Houston
Giants 10 Astros 0

Cain tied the strikeout high for perfect games with 14.

6- Roy Halladay
May 29, 2010 vs Florida
Phillies 1 Marlins 0
9 IP 0 H 0 R 0 ER 0 BB 11 K

Halladay was perfect against the Marlins while fanning 11. The Phillies scored once in the third and “Doc” made it stand.

5- Nolan Ryan
May 1, 1991 vs Toronto
Rangers 3 Blue Jays 0
9 IP 0 H 0 R 0 ER 2 BB 16 K

Ryan dominated a fierce Toronto lineup. Devon White, Roberto Alomar, Kelly Gruber, Joe Carter, John Olerud, Mark Whiten and Glenallen Hill were the first seven in the order that day for the Jays. Ryan no-hit the Jays and piled-up 16 whiffs. White and Alomar combined to go 0-8 with 6 K’s.

4- Randy Johnson
May 18, 2004 vs Atlanta
Diamondbacks 2 Braves 0
9 IP 0 H 0 R 0 ER 0 BB 13 K

The former Mariner was perfect while punching out 13 Braves. The Big Unit dominated a solid group of Braves including Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones and J.D. Drew. Mike Hampton kept the game close, but there was no overcoming Johnson on this day.

3- Felix Hernandez
August 15, 2012 vs Tampa Bay
Mariners 1 Rays 0
9 IP 0 H 0 R 0 ER 0 BB 12 K

Felix used a dazzling array of offspeed pitches to completely befuddle Tampa Bay. The King was crowned as he touched perfection for the first time. He did it all in a 1-0 game. To make the effort that much more impressive he did it against an American League team with a DH. He traded three at-bats by a pitcher for three at-bats from a DH. The DH was Evan Longoria.

2- Kerry Wood
May 6, 1998 vs Houston
Cubs 2 Astros 0
9 IP 1 H 0 R 0 ER 0 BB 20 K 1 HBP

Wood tied the single game record for strikeouts in a game with 20. He kept Houston off the board while only allowing a Ricky Gutierrez single . The power packed Houston Astros featuring Craig Biggio, Derek Bell, Jeff Bagwell and Moises Alou were rendered helpless against Wood.

1- Sandy Koufax
September 9, 1965 vs Chicago
Dodgers 1 Cubs 0
9 IP 0 H 0 R 0 ER 0 BB 14 K

Koufax hurled a perfect game at the Cubs while fanning 14 batters. He had no margin for error as the Dodgers only managed 1 hit in the game and scored 1 run. Ron Fairley helped set-up the go ahead run for LA in the 5th inning with a sacrifice bunt. Koufax sliced and diced a batting order that featured Hall of Famers Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Ernie Banks in the middle. Bob Hendley took the tough luck loss for the Cubs while giving up just one hit and no earned runs.

High Heat

If the M’s come back from two games out with three games to go, they wouldn’t be the fi...
Gary Hill

Is all hope lost for Mariners? It wasn’t for the 1999 New York Mets

The Mariners may be two games out of the playoffs with three games to go, but a comeback isn't completely unprecedented.
8 years ago
James Paxton was called up earlier Wednesday to start in place of the injured Felix Hernandez. (AP)...
Gary Hill

Mariners looking at the most important day of their season

The Mariners are 1.5 games out of the second wild-card heading into their series opener with Toronto. Time is running out to make up ground, and today might be their best chance to do so.
8 years ago
Conor Gillaspie’s bases-clearing triple helped the M’s gain some precious ground on Kan...
Gary Hill

White Sox factoring heavily into Mariners’ postseason chances

If the Mariners are going to surpass Kansas City for the second wild-card spot, they could use some help from the White Sox, who play the Royals five more times.
8 years ago
Mariners left-hander James Paxton owns a miniscule 1.83 ERA in 39.1 innings this season. (AP)...
Gary Hill

Paxton, Walker can help Mariners’ suddenly struggling rotation

The Mariners' starting rotation has improved significantly from last season, but with that group struggling of late, Seattle could use a boost from James Paxton and Taijuan Walker down the stretch.
8 years ago
The Mariners swept the Red Sox in Boston over the weekend for the first time in franchise history. ...
Gary Hill

Looking back on the Mariners’ epic sweep in Boston

The Mariners swept aside the Red Sox at Fenway Park for the first time in club history over the weekend thanks to an epic comeback on Friday night and a bare-knuckle slugfest on Sunday.
8 years ago
With another gem Tuesday against the Phillies, Hisashi Iwakuma is putting together one of the best ...
Gary Hill

No. 2 starter? Mariners’ Hisashi Iwakuma is more like another ace

With another gem in the Mariners' 5-2 win over Philadelphia, Hisashi Iwakuma continues to be one of the best -- and most underrated -- pitchers in baseball.
8 years ago
Felix and the greatest starts in history