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Perfect! Phillip Humber Joins Legends as He Pitches Perfect Game against Mariners

Phillip Humber doffs his Cap after his Perfect Game (Photo Steven Bissig US Presswire via USA Today)

Phillip Humber is not who you would have expected to be just the 21st pitcher in MLB history.  However, Humber who had the Tommy John Elbow surgery in 2005 and bounced between a number of teams became one of a select group of pitchers including such notables as Jim “Catfish” Hunter, David Cone, Sandy Koufax, Roy Halliday, Randy Johnson and Cy Young. Of course there are others including Dallas Braden who hails from my home town of Stockton California.

The perfect game is the most rare of baseball events. In over 390,000 games only 21 pitchers have pitched the perfect game which is about a perfect game every 18571 games or so, give or take a few since I am rounding the numbers here. As a comparison for hitters 286 players have hit for the cycle in a game.

It is rare enough that only one has been pitched in a World Series, that of Don Larsen who threw a perfect game in Game five of the 1956 World Series for the New York Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Today Humber required just 97 pitches to dispose of the yet again hapless Seattle Mariners who cannot hit their way out of a wet paper bag. Humber struck out nine on the way to the win.  The final out was recorded when Brendan Ryan struck out on a checked swing which was ruled a strike but since the ball got away from Catcher A. J. Pierzynski the catcher had to retrieve it and make the throw out to first base to seal the win.

The South Texas born Humber seemed an unlikely candidate to pitch the first perfect game since 2010. He was a top prospect, the overall 3rd pick in the 2004 amateur draft, being picked by the Mets one pick after Detroit took Justin Verlander after playing college ball for Rice University. He had been struck in the face above his right eye with a line drive off the bat of Kosuke Fukodome on August 18th 2011. Before his career even really began he damaged his throwing elbow badly enough to have to have the Tommy John elbow ligament reconstruction surgery. He had been waived by teams twice and was pitching in only his 30th big league start. He had not thrown a MLB level shutout or for that matter a complete game.

The Kevin Costner film For the Love of the Game (1999) which is based on Michael Shaara’s The Perfect Game which was discovered after he died in 1988 and published in 1991is one of my favorite films and novels and I think captures how special this feat is for any pitcher. For the pitcher cannot allow a single base runner, not just giving up hits, but walks or runners that reach base due to defensive errors even those beyond control of the pitcher. A pitcher must pitch a complete game face 27 batters and get all of them out. It is a hard thing to do at any level and most difficult at the Major League level.

Humber was low key about his feat saying “This is awesome, I’m so thankful.’’ and “I don’t know that I dominated them, obviously the ball was hit at people. I’m thankful for that. It was a well-pitched game. Definitely something I’ll never forget.’’

Congratulations to Phil Humber and the White Sox. I hope for even more success for Humber who I consider a great example of sticking to something you love doing even when things are difficult.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Roy Halladay No-Hits the Cincinnati Hitting Machine

Roy Halladay- Scary Good…just look at the face (NY Daily News)

“The only thing that matters is what happens on the little hump out in the middle of the field.” Earl Weaver

Roy Halladay continues to do what the Philadelphia Phillies acquired him to do. Halladay who went 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA striking out 219 and only walking 30 in 250.2 innings of work has been the man in an outstanding starting rotation. Halladay is what I would call scary good and is one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball. On Wednesday evening he did what no one has done in 54 years; pitch a no-hitter in the playoff. The last time this happened was when journeyman pitcher Don Larsen threw a perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers on October 8, 1956.

Halladay faced the Cincinnati Reds a team that hit led the NL in average (.272), runs (790), hits (1515), home runs (188), slugging percentage (.436) and second in on base percentage (.338).  The Reds offense has been explosive but a lot of their success has been against their divisional opponents, although they were dominated by their rival the St. Louis Cardinals and they had a losing record against every other playoff team in the league.

Halladay shut the Reds down in a big way only walking one batter while pitching 104 pitches striking out 8 on the way to the victory.  His fastball dominated the Reds with good movement and velocity the entire game averaging 92 miles an hour with 79 of his 104 pitches being strikes.

This is nothing new as in his last 10 appearances Halladay went 8-2 pitching 75 innings giving up 25 runs during that run only walking 8 batters and striking out 61. If by some chance the Reds get by Oswalt and Hamels they have to face Halladay yet again.  Things do not look good for the Big Red Machine.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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