MLB Notebook: King Felix a part of baseball royalty
About three weeks after Sandy Koufax twirled the eighth perfect game in history, the Dodgers southpaw was, if not perfect, still quite dominant.
Facing the Reds at Dodger Stadium on Sept. 29, 1965, Koufax won his 25th game of the season, shutting out Cincinnati on two hits while striking out 13. That outing marked the fifth time during that season in which the incomparable Koufax whitewashed an opponent on five hits or fewer and struck out at least 12 batters. In the liveball era, no pitcher has had as many of these games in a season. In fact, no other pitcher has even had four.
Only four other pitchers since 1920 have even authored three such games in a season. Johnny Vander Meer did it in 1941 (three years after his back-to-back no-hitters), Tom Seaver had three in '71, and just a year later, Seaver's former Mets teammate Nolan Ryan had three while pitching for the Angels.
Neither The Dutch Master, Tom Terrific nor The Ryan Express ever pitched a perfect game like Koufax, but the fifth member of this club -- King Felix -- now has.
On June 28, Felix Hernandez blanked the Red Sox on five hits and struck out 13, and on July 14, he fanned 12 Texas Rangers while limiting that club to a measly three hits. Add in 27 batters up and 27 batters down (12 via strikeout) on Wednesday in a 1-0 win over the Rays, and Hernandez -- at the age of 26 years and 129 days -- stands quite tall among baseball royalty, both past and present.
Hernandez threw the 23rd perfect game in baseball history, notching his dozen Ks in a 113-pitch masterpiece.
Hernandez's 12 strikeouts in his perfect game were the fourth most, behind the 14 by Koufax (1965), the 14 by Matt Cain (2012) and the 13 by Randy Johnson ('04).
Hernandez's perfect game -- the first in Mariners history and the 14th in the American League -- produced a game score (an equation used to calculate a pitcher's dominance) of 99. It's the ninth time in the DH era that an AL pitcher has reached a score that high in a nine-inning game. The highest was a 101, by Ryan in his no-hitter on May 1, 1991. Ryan fanned 16 with two walks during that game.
Wednesday's gem marked the seventh time perfection had come in a 1-0 contest. The others: Lee Richmond's perfect game in 1880, Addie Joss' in 1908, Koufax's in '65, Mike Witt's in '84, Tom Browning's in '88, and Roy Halladay's in 2010.
Hernandez's perfect game was the third this season, making 2012 the first year with three. With Hernandez joining Cain and Philip Humber in the club this year, it has outdistanced 1880 (Monte Ward and Richmond) and 2010 (Dallas Braden and Halladay) for the most in a season. With Mark Buehrle's perfect game in '09, there have been six over the past four seasons.
Hernandez's was the fourth straight perfect game to be thrown by a right-hander, following Halladay, Humber and Cain. Before this trend, lefties had been dominating the scene, authoring the previous six perfectos prior to Halladay's masterpiece on May 29, 2010.
Hernandez has notched three shutouts on three hits or fewer this season -- tied with Brandon Morrow for the most in the Majors. No pitcher has had more such games in a season since Roger Clemens had four in 1991.
Buehrle allowed two runs in seven innings and picked up his 10th win, as the Marlins defeated the Phillies, 9-2. Buehrle has won at least 10 games in every season since 2001, and he's posted 167 victories during this span.
Buehrle and CC Sabathia are the only two pitchers to have won at least 10 games in every season since 2001. Since then, Sabathia's 188 wins are the most in the Majors, while Buehrle's 167 are the third most. Halladay, who was Buehrle's mound opponent on Wednesday, owns the second most, with 181.
Buehrle is the 11th left-hander in the modern era to win 10 or more games in at least 12 consecutive seasons. Steve Carlton won 10 or more in 18 straight seasons, and Warren Spahn had a 17-season run, for the two longest such stretches in history.
Max Scherzer improved to 12-6, striking out 10 in seven shutout innings for the Tigers in a 5-1 win over the Twins. Scherzer leads the Majors in strikeouts per nine innings with a rate of 11.39. If that was his season-ending value, it would tie Dwight Gooden's 1984 mark for the fifth highest in history for a qualifying right-hander. Pedro Martinez owns the highest rate, at 13.20 in 1999.
Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera hit his 30th home run of the season in a 2-for-5, two-RBI day. In the AL Triple Crown categories, Cabrera leads in RBIs (103), is tied for third in homers and is second in batting average (.327). With the homer, Cabrera joined Albert Pujols and Mark Teixeira as the only players to have at least eight 30-homer, 100-RBI campaigns in their first 10 Major League seasons. Pujols had 10, while Teixeira has eight (he could make it nine this season -- he's at 23 and 77 right now).
Stephen Strasburg improved to 14-5, striking out seven in six innings for the Nationals in a 6-4 win over the Giants. Strasburg is second to Scherzer in K's per nine in the Majors, sitting at 11.17. That figure, if it was a season-ending rate, would represent the 12th highest for a right-hander in history.
In the Angels' 8-4 win over the Indians, Mike Trout hit his 22nd home run and stole his 38th base. Trout's 22 homers tie him with Ken Griffey, Jr. and Giancarlo Stanton for the 12th most for any player ever in his age-20 season or younger, while his 38 steals are tied for the sixth most. Before Trout, no player in history in his age-20 season of younger had ever reached both of these totals.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.