I was just sitting on my bed, watching Youtube videos, when my iPhone vibrated on my bed (and yes, I needed to say iPhone, instead of cell phone because it's an iPhone, not a cell phone). I received a sports alter from ESPN that I subscribed to saying "Mariners P Felix Hernandez has a perfect game through 8 innings with 10 strikeouts." Really? Alright...time to turn on ESPN, praying they were taking a break from talking about the Jet's bingo tournament ESPN might have been showing and pray the game was on.
I was lucky enough to catch the first pitch of the ninth inning from stud Felix Hernandez and immediately two things came to my mind: Is this really happening to the Rays AGAIN? And, is there anyone more physically intimidating on the mound than the 6'3" 230-pound monster Hernandez with his hat turned slightly to the left staring down the batter with a scowl that only Steelers' Bill Cowher could match?
As Hernandez wound up and turned his body three-quarters of the way around, he fired a 1-2 slider in on Desmond Jennings he swung so hard on, it appeared as if his eyes were closed and just prayed the bat would make contact with something, since that's more than seemingly every other batter had been able to achieve all afternoon. Jeff Keppinger, up next, smacked a pitch up the middle, where Brendan Ryan fielded the ball smoothly (me holding my breath the whole time), and fired the ball to first for the second out. Sidenote: as routine of a play as that was, with that magnitude of the moment, there is no such thing as a "given," especially after Armando Gallaraga decided to break everyone's heart, sorry, I meant umpire Jim Joyce, my mistake.
As Safeco Field started to erupt as the second out was recorded, I knew it was going to happen. Felix is too good; he has turned down free-agency, where he could be making millions more in a bigger market just to stay in Seattle, where he started his career and where he is meant to be. Felix was quoted after the game on Baseball Tonight saying that he knew he had his stuff going all night to where he would be able to pull something like this off, as early as the fourth inning he felt it.
So when the number nine hitter, Sean Rodriguez came to the play, in the marquee at-bat of the month for baseball, King Felix knew what to do. I knew what he was going to do. The city of Seattle prayed for lightning to strike twice in Safeco Field, as two months earlier six pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter for the Mariners, in the unlikeliest of ways.
First pitch, ball.
Second pitch, ball.
*Wipes brow* (me, not him)
Third pitch, a change-up outside that Rodriguez can't even remotely catch up to, Strike 1.
Fourth pitch, a sickening curveball that drops right over the plate, Rodriguez froze stiff, Strike 2.
The crowd rises, the city rises, as their ace, their icon (now that Ichiro has joined the Evil Empire in New York) gets ready for his fifth pitch of the at-bat, his 113th pitch of the afternoon and one that will sit in the record books forever. A fastball painted on the inner half of the plate by Van Gohn, so perfectly that Rodriguez stared at its beauty as it ripped past him and into the catcher's glove. Strike 3. His 12th strikeout of the afternoon. Game over.
My brother and I just sat there smiling in disbelief as we both just witnessed history, complete dominance by a pitcher who has never received the respect he deserves by the public.
Welcome to the history books King Felix Hernandez, you now will be a household name outside the city of Seattle, as if you weren't one already, as one of the best pitchers in the 21st century to finally be recognized as the 23rd pitcher in baseball history to throw a perfect game.