White Sox Pitcher Philip Humber Hurls 21st Perfect Game
Philip Humber, a pitcher whose career nearly ended before it could begin after undergoing Tommy John surgery upon being drafted number 3 overall by the New York Mets in 2004, pitched the 21st perfect game in baseball history on Saturday in Seattle’s SafeCo Field leading the White Sox to a 4-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners. It was the first perfect game in almost two years, the last being Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay pitching one against the Florida Marlins on May 29, 2010.
Humber took the mound on Saturday with little fanfare as before this game there was little reason to believe that the pitcher would do anything spectacular. After being drafted in ’04 and undergoing Tommy John surgery, Humber bounced around for several years before earning his first Major League victory for the Kansas City Royals in 2010. Chicago took a chance on the right hander and picked him up off waivers from Oakland in January of 2011, he went 9-9 with a 3.75 ERA for the club last season pitching 163 innings in his first full season. This year, Chicago hoped that he would improve on those numbers, but in his first start of the season he went 5 1/3 innings and tossed 115 pitches in a no decision against Baltimore on Monday.
Saturday was something completely different though, and Humber went to work quickly working the bottom of the first retiring Chone Figgins and Dustin Ackley via ground balls and getting Ichiro to line out to center. In the bottom of the second, Humber struck out the side and really started to gain his confidence on the mound, something that would carry over into the bottom of the third when he retired Michael Saunders via pop out, Miguel Olivo via strike out and Munenori Kawasaki via foul out to third base.
Humber continued to mow down the Mariners’ line-up for the next five innings, recording seven strike-outs over the first eight innings of work. In the ninth inning, Humber took to the mound to face the bottom of Seattle’s order for the third time. Saunders struck out to lead off the inning, and Seattle skipper Eric Wedge pinch hit John Jaso for Olivo to try to get something going. Jaso flied out to right field for the second out the fifteenth of the game via pop-out, and the crowd at SafeCo field rose to their feet as Brendan Ryan headed to the plate to pinch hit for Kawasaki. Humber made things interesting, taking Ryan to a full count, but Ryan missed on a low pitch that was outside and got away from catcher A.J. Pierzynski, but after he reclaimed it and tossed to first baseman Paul Konerko, Humber was awarded his ninth strike out, and the 21 st perfect game in history was complete. Humber fell to his knees on the mound as the White Sox stormed the field to congratulate the right hander on just his 12 th Major League victory, one that will be remembered for all time.
Humber needed just 96 pitches to retire all 27 Mariners and it was the first complete game of his career. Humber is married and his wife is nine months pregnant so she couldn’t be in attendance, but Humber did phone her after the game. The key to his success on Saturday was his slider which was really moving in and out of the zone. Humber only had a three-ball count three times, and used just 45 pitches to face the first 12 hitters of the game. The game marked the third no-hitter tossed against Seattle, the first being on April 11, 1990 when the Angels’ Mark Langston and Mike Witt combined for one and the second being on May 14, 1996 when Dwight Gooden pitched one for the Yankees. Humber became the third White Sox pitcher to toss a perfect game, Mark Buehrle tossed one against Tampa Bay on July 23, 2009 and Charles Robertson was perfect against Detroit on April 30, 1922.
By: Robert Gonzalez