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Felix's perfecto reverberates around baseball

Felix's perfecto reverberates around baseball

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Felix's perfecto reverberates around baseball
The beauty of baseball is that history can happen in unexpected places and at surprising times. Take a non-descript Wednesday afternoon in August, when Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez threw the 23rd perfect game in Major League history.

The news was quick to spread around the league. Commissioner Bud Selig, who was in and out of meetings among Major League owners in Denver on Wednesday, caught a glimpse of Hernandez on television and couldn't turn away.

"Once we got to the sixth or seventh inning, I wasn't leaving," Selig said. "Amazing. You never get too emotional watching something like that. The eighth and ninth inning -- whew!"

Selig sat with Joe Torre, MLB's executive vice president of baseball operations, as the Mariners' ace set down all 27 Rays hitters he faced, the first perfecto in franchise history and the third this year -- a single-season record.

Felix Hernandez
Jewel in the crown

"The command he had of all of his pitches -- he struck out five of the last six hitters," Selig said. "That's pretty good."

Hernandez struck out 12 batters en route to the fourth no-hitter in Mariners history, and the second this season. On June 8, six Seattle hurlers combined for a no-no at Safeco Field against the Dodgers.

"It was in my mind the whole game," said Hernandez, who improved to 11-5 on the season. "I was like, 'Come on, you've gotta do it. You gotta do it.'"

Giants righty Matt Cain submitted the most recent perfect game, a June 13 gem against the Astros at AT&T Park. Several Houston players watched Hernandez shut the door from the cramped visitor's clubhouse at Wrigley Field.

Astros second baseman Jose Altuve who, like Hernandez, hails from Venezuela, took initiative at one point to confirm with a reporter that the 2010 American League Cy Young Award winner still had the perfect game intact.

Hernandez also piqued the interest of the American League West rival Athletics, who crowded around the TV in the visiting clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium to watch the final innings. Oakland lefty Dallas Braden tossed a perfect game against the Rays at the Oakland Coliseum in May 2010.

The A's participated in some perfect game trivia, with one player asking, "What's the most strikeouts in a perfect game?" Rookie hurler Dan Straily correctly chimed in with "14," the total notched both by Sandy Koufax in 1965 and Cain in June.

In the eighth inning, A's players impersonated the strikeout calls of Mariners play-by-play announcer Dave Sims. By the ninth, the players were cheering as if they were in the stands at Safeco Field. Grant Balfour stretched out on a couch, Jonny Gomes sat on a table and Josh Reddick relaxed in a massage chair, but once Hernandez sealed the deal by punching out Sean Rodriguez, all three leapt up with loud cheers.

Hernandez's historic outing mesmerized Angels slugger Mark Trumbo, who muttered, "Nasty, man," as the team viewed the final two innings of the contest.

"I know he's flirted with it a couple of times before," Trumbo said. "It's great that he got one. He's a great guy, has always been pretty nice to me, and I'm happy for him."

Angels infielder Maicer Izturis, a native of Barquisimeto, Venezuela, said the feat is great for their country.

"I know how much they love baseball over there, and how big Felix is to them, and I know they're super excited back home," Izturis said. "He's a great kid and one of the best pitchers in the game."

Zack Meisel is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @zackmeisel. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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