ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. — Felix Hernandez has been good a lot over his nine seasons as a Seattle Mariner, but Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of the day he was perfect.
Hernandez threw the lone perfect game in Mariners history on Aug. 15, 2012. His 1-0 win over Tampa Bay was the 23rd perfect game in major league history.
“Awesome game,” he recalled this week, as the Mariners are once again paired against the Rays. “That day is perfect, huh? … Every time I jump on the mound I try to throw a no-hitter or a perfect game. It’s always on my mind. I’m not going to forget that day.”
Few people who saw it will. That includes the 21,889 who were at Safeco Field that day – and also Robby Thompson, who was Seattle’s bench coach that day and is acting manager now.
“Just sitting there watching that game and having that knot in your stomach and your gut waiting for that last out,” he said. … “Obviously, perfect games are few and far between. I think that was a game we’ll all remember.”
Brendan Ryan scored the lone run that day, brought in by Jesus Montero. But Hernandez made that enough by facing 27 Rays, and retired them all, including 12 by strikeout.
“I had a fastball working,” he said. “I had the breaking balls there. Change-up was good. It was one of those days.”
Hernandez has had some good days since, too. He is 12-5 on the season with a 2.28 earned-run average.
“Anytime he takes the mound, he’s got a chance to do that,” Thompson said. “There are several guys throughout the league who legitimately have that chance to throw a no-hitter or perfect game. So it doesn’t surprise me.”
Hernandez noted that the difference of just one pitch, one call, can make all the difference. And that is borne out by Mariners pitching history, which shows three individual no-hitters, 10 one-hitters, and 34 two-hitters.
But Hernandez also noted that he’s feeling good these days – a lot like he felt about a year ago at this time.
“I had pretty good stuff the other day against Milwaukee,” he said. “But like I said, things have to happen. Sometimes you give up one base hit in the eighth or the seventh. … You’ve got to be in the right day and the right position.”
Fate and pitching rotations didn’t deliver Hernandez back to the mound against the Rays on the anniversary of his perfect game – or at all this series. His next scheduled start is Saturday at Texas.
Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb is expected to return to the rotation Thursday against the Mariners. It will be his first start since June 15, when he was hit in the head by a line drive by Eric Hosmer of Kansas City. Manager Joe Madden said Cobb will be limited to around 90 pitches. … There was a time when indoor baseball was a routine thing for the Mariners. But these days it’s down to the games when weather forces retractable roofs to close – along with the certainty of these three games at Tropicana Field, which has a permanent roof and AstroTurf. “Indoor baseball: Nothing like it,” Thompson said. “This place is different, isn’t it? … It plays a little bit different off the artificial (infield), but that’s what pregame is for. But it’s not that much of a change.”
The Mariners and Rays conclude this series at 4:10 p.m. (PDT) Thursday. Probable starting pitchers are Seattle left-hander Joe Saunders (10-11, 4.69 ERA) against Cobb (6-2, 3.01). The game will be broadcast on Root Sports.
MARINERS NOTEBOOKDon Ruiz: 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @donruiztnt