Tag Archives: Matt Cain

Hitless in Seattle

Add King Felix to baseball’s royal family.

One month and two days after Matt Cain accomplished the feat, Mariners’ ace Felix Hernandez threw the third perfect game of the season, a prestigious accomplishment getting less prestigious each year. Once considered among the rarest achievements in sports, the perfect game is becoming increasingly commonplace in the MLB.

Hernandez reacts after the final out.

Hernandez’s perfect game is the third of this season. There were another two thrown in 2010, and it really should have been three if not for umpire Jim Joyce’s blown call on what would have been the final out for Armando Galarraga. In fact, since 2004 there have been seven perfect games (again, eight if you count Galarraga), meaning the MLB is practically averaging a perfect game per year. Sure, that’s still uncommon enough to be a be a big deal, but considering the 34 year gap between Charlie Robertson’s perfect game in 1922 and Don Larsen’s in 1956, it’s pretty clear baseball fans have become pretty spoiled lately. (For comparison, in the past 34 years there have been 14 perfect games.)

This is not to say tossing a perfect game is any less of  historic event; only 23 have been thrown in 132 years. In fact, throwing a perfect game in this age of baseball could be even more difficult than it was 50 years ago. The level of scouting and player analysis every team uses prepares batters to know a pitcher’s tendencies and what to expect when facing him. Combine that with improved technologies in training (and steroids) that produce more and more incredible athletes and with the shorter leash managers give pitchers in terms of pitch count and it seems crazy to think a team in this era could go 27 at bats without getting at least one ball through a hole.

The King sits atop his throne.

But that is exactly what Felix Hernandez was able to accomplish on Wednesday. For Hernandez, who has been quietly wasting away his prime in Seattle, it’s great to see him back in the spotlight, if only briefly, as the Mariners yet again languish at the bottom of the American League standings.

Yet despite the losses, fans in Seattle have had quite the pitching show performed for them this season. Philip Humber of the White Sox tossed his perfect game earlier this year at Safeco Field. Then the Mariners had a no-hitter against the Dodgers, despite using six pitchers to do so. Hernandez’s perfect game tops the list.

King Felix certainly proved he deserves his nickname.

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National League Wins Third Straight All-Star Game

After a nearly 14-year losing skid, the National League All-Stars have officially started a new streak.

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T.I., uh, I mean… Adam Jones… was just one of many American League players to struggle at the plate.

Reversing a trend that began in the 1990’s just two years ago at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, the N.L. went to work early on Tuesday night, winning their third straight Mid-Summer Classic in an 8-0 laugher in Kansas City.

Coming into the break with a 9-5 record and a 2.58 ERA, American League starting pitcher and Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander did not earn his stripes this evening.

He pitched only one inning and surrendered two walks and five earned runs in a performance that sealed his league’s fate before national anthem singer Luke Bryan could finish the word “brave.”

It was widely speculated around the league that San Francisco Giants fans “cheated” the All-Star voting system, liberally using internet voting to secure spots for a number of Giants players, including third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who started over a probably more deserving David Wright.

Sandoval quickly showed the importance of voting early and often, hitting the first bases loaded triple in All-Star Game history off of Verlander in the first inning to put the National League ahead 4-0.  Giants players would drive in five of the N.L.’s eight runs.

On the mound, the National League pitchers were masterful.  With such a deep bullpen allowing relief pitchers to go all-out against the one or two batters they faced, flamethrowers like Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel and Cincinnati’s Aroldis Chapman proved to be particularly devastating, both topping out at over 100 miles-per-hour in the eighth inning.

In one particular at bat, Kimbrel’s repertoire was just too much for American League hitting.

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Going 2 for 3 with 2 RBI, Melky Cabrera was one of three San Francisco Giants to deliver big in the All-Star Game and was named MVP.

Having blown a 100 mile-per-hour fastball by Asdrubal Cabrera of the Indians to get ahead 0-2, Kimbrel unleashed a filthy backdoor curveball at 87 miles-per-hour that caused Cabrera’s knees to buckle and the American League’s hopes to fade even further.

The American League All-Stars barely even let out a whimper all evening on offense.  Only one player on the entire roster, 20 year-old Angels outfielder Mike Trout, was able to reach base twice as the team scratched together a meager five hits on the night.

The sole high point of the American League team may have been its home fans.  The American League faithful (a.k.a. the Kansas City Royals faithful) showed their class throughout this All-Star week, which is typically the norm for loyal Midwest fan bases.

Last night, American League Home Run Derby captain Robinson Cano heard deafening boos after failing to pick Royals designated hitter Billy Butler, who has 16 home runs on the season, to be on the four-man squad.  An airplane message even reiterated the message before first pitch, declaring, “Congrats, Billy!  You blew it, Cano!”

The boos quickly turned into cheers as a jet-lagged Cano failed to clear the fences once.

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The Royals have seemingly never been able to win in Kauffman Stadium, one of the league’s most picturesque ballparks.

Still, the Royals fans stuck around to cheer on the rest of their American League brethren, applauding Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder as he hoisted his second Home Run Derby trophy.

Their biggest throwback, class-act moment, however, came on Tuesday night when Chipper Jones stepped up to the plate in the top half of the sixth.

This would be Jones’ only at-bat in his last All-Star Game, and the 40,000-plus on hand certainly made it a momentous occasion, rising to their feet for a thunderous standing ovation.  The curtain call received an audible, “Wow!” and a tip of the cap from the usually unsentimental Jones, who would later poke a single to the right side.

Aside from saying goodbye to a first ballot Hall of Famer and showcasing a beautiful, often overlooked Kauffman Stadium, this All-Star break in Kansas City served as an opportunity for the National League to start a dynasty of its own.

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