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Mariners' Hernandez achieves pitching perfection

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Mariners' Hernandez achieves pitching perfection Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images
Seattle ace throws 2012's sixth no-hitter and third perfect game

A couple of months ago, I wrote in these pages that 2012 had a chance to be 'The Year of the No-Hitter.' To that point, five no-hit games including two perfect games had been thrown in the majors this season. I proposed that this would be the year that set the new modern standard for most no-hitters in a season, breaking the record of seven set in both 1990 and 1991.

As one might expect with my track record of poor prognostication, the no-hitters promptly stopped happening. Until now.

Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez brought the no-hitters record back into play last week when he pitched the 23rd perfect game in major league history against the Tampa Bay Rays, striking out 12 batters along the way.

While Hernandez's gem is the sixth no-hitter thrown this season one shy of the record it did set a record of its own. It was the third perfect game of the 2012 season; San Francisco's Matt Cain and Philip Humber of the White Sox both previously threw perfectos this year. No other big league season has seen more than two.

(Note: In 2010, Dallas Braden of the Oakland A's and Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies both threw perfect games. In addition, that was the season which saw the controversial 'imperfect game,' in which umpire Jim Joyce blew a call on the final play that would have otherwise given Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game.)

Hernandez is a Cy Young Award winner and has made multiple All-Star teams. His dominance has been such that it was only a matter of time before he put a masterpiece like this together especially given the pitcher-friendliness of his home stadium at Safeco Field. In fact, he's the least surprising pitcher to throw a no-hitter this season.

The rundown thus far:

  • April 21 Philip Humber, White Sox (perfect game)
  • May 2 Jered Weaver, Angels
  • June 1 Johan Santana, Mets
  • June 8 Kevin Millwood (and six others), Mariners
  • June 13 Matt Cain, Giants (perfect game)
  • August 15 Hernandez

So where does this leave us? Will 2012's individual pitching dominance end with these six? We've already seen history with the three perfect games; will the next six weeks find pitchers digging down and finding a way to express that dominance once more? Twice more?

My guess would be yes. We're just a few days from the September call-ups. Rosters are going to expand from 25 to 40. That's a whole lot of new players, many of whom will be seeing major league action for the first time. Combine that with a time of year when many teams will be out of contention and just playing out the string (sadly, I'm looking at you, Boston) and you've got a very real possibility that one or more of the top-flight pitchers out there will shut a team down.

Two whole months without a no-hitter is far too long. Thanks for coming up big, King Felix. I was starting to get the shakes.

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