Seattle's Felix Hernandez on Wednesday became the third right-hander to throw a perfect game this season, joining Philip Humber of the White Sox and Matt Cain of the Giants, making it 81 up, 81 down in 2012.
It is the first time in Major League Baseball history that there have been three perfect games in a single season. It happened twice in two previous years. The first time was 1880, just five days apart: Lee Richmond for Worcester over Cleveland on June 12 and then by Hall of Famer Monte Ward on June 17 for Providence over Buffalo. The second was just two years ago, when Oakland's Dallas Braden did it to the Rays on May 9, followed 20 days later by Roy Halladay's masterpiece for the Phillies in Miami.
"I've been working so hard to throw one, and there it is, for you guys," King Felix told the crowd at Safeco Field, after throwing the first one in Mariners history.
Seattle also became the first team ever to be both a victim and a celebrant of a perfect game in the same season. Humber did it to the Mariners on April 21 at Safeco Field as well. Cain's perfect game was on June 13 against Houston at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
Cain had the most strikeouts in his gem, whiffing 14 Astros to tie Sandy Koufax's 1965 record for most in a perfect game. Hernandez had 12 strikeouts -- finishing off Sean Rodriguez of the Rays with a third strike looking -- and Humber had nine.
Humber threw a hanging curve to Dustin Ackley in the fourth inning and it was belted to right, where White Sox outfielder Alex Rios retreated a few steps and leaped slightly to haul it in. The same Ackley was on the good side of Wednesday's perfect game.
Cain got by far the biggest assist thanks to center fielder Gregor Blanco's classic diving catch on a gapper by Jordan Schafer in the seventh inning.
"What are you doing playing there? How'd you make that?" Cain asked him after that inning.
"I'm there for you, man," Blanco replied. "I did it for you."
Hernandez's only drama came on the first batter of the game, when right fielder Eric Thames made a nice running catch on a fly hit by Sam Fuld. Actually, the only real drama of Hernandez's gem was provided by the opposing manager, as Joe Maddon was ejected after arguing balls and strikes, threatening to interrupt Hernandez's flow in the seventh inning.
There have been 23 perfect games overall, and going back to Mark Buehrle's for the White Sox against Tampa Bay in 2009, there have now been six such events over the past four seasons. Three have been pitched against the Rays.