Felix Hernandez hurled the first perfect game in franchise history on Wednesday, when he tallied 12 strikeouts in a superbly spun gem against the Rays.
Two months ago, it took six Seattle pitchers to forge together the first combined no-hitter in Mariners history. As far as cleanliness of no-hitters go, the combined effort was on the opposite end of the spectrum from Hernandez's performance.
Not only did manager Eric Wedge need to rifle through five relievers following Kevin Millwood's departure with a groin injury after six frames, but the Mariners needed a two-out seventh-inning rally to break through themselves and win, 1-0. In the eighth, the Dodgers pushed runners to second and third with one out before Lucas Luetge and Brandon League shut the door and preserved the no-no.
"When you win a 1-0 ballgame in that fashion, so many different people have to step up, defensively and on the mound," Wedge said, "and that's what you saw."
On Wednesday, in another 1-0 victory, Hernandez left little doubt in anyone's mind that he could complete the task. He even encouraged himself once he realized early on that he had his best stuff on the mound.
"It was in my mind the whole game," said Hernandez, who registered his third shutout in the last six weeks. "I was like, 'Come on, you gotta do it. You gotta do it.'"
Hernandez's perfecto was the fourth no-hitter in franchise history. Randy Johnson tossed the first one on June 2, 1990, against the Tigers at the Kingdome. The "Big Unit" needed 138 pitches and walked six. Johnson pitched a perfect game nearly 14 years later as a member of the Diamondbacks.
Chris Bosio submitted Seattle's second no-no on April 22, 1993, against the Red Sox, also at the Kingdome. Bosio walked a pair and struck out four.
Safeco Field is no stranger to perfect games. On April 21, White Sox righty Philip Humber retired all 27 Mariners he faced. Hernandez took note of Humber's historic outing.
"When Phil Humber threw his perfect game here, I said 'I have to throw one. I have to,'" Hernandez said. "I've been working so hard, and there it is for you guys."
This season, Major League pitchers have recorded six no-hitters, including a single-season record three perfect games.