Felix Hernandez tosses MLB's 23rd perfecto

846123.jpg

Felix Hernandez tosses MLB's 23rd perfecto

From Comcast SportsNet
SEATTLE (AP) -- As he rode down in the crowded elevator wearing a wide grin after watching Felix Hernandez twirl baseball history, Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik felt like having a little fun. He pulled out his cellphone, held it to his ear and listened for a moment. "No, we're not trading Felix Hernandez," Zduriencik jokingly said into his phone. Not after Wednesday. Not anytime soon. Hernandez pitched the Seattle Mariners' first perfect game and the 23rd in baseball history, overpowering the Tampa Bay Rays in a brilliant 1-0 victory Wednesday. The 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner has never hid his desire for pitching perfection. For a franchise on its way to an 11th straight season without a playoff appearance, Hernandez is the one constant keeping fans interested in Mariners baseball. Hernandez (11-5) rewarded those fans with a 12-strikeout gem on Wednesday afternoon. He baffled the Rays using his sharp curve and blistering fastball to keep the Rays guessing all day. It finally culminated in the ninth inning when Hernandez struck out pinch-hitter Desmond Jennings, got pinch-hitter Jeff Keppinger to ground out and closed out the perfecto by falling behind Sean Rodriguez 2-0 and then throwing three perfect pitches. His teammates had spent most of the game leaving Hernandez to himself, but after the right-hander was done pointing at the sky, he was engulfed in celebration. "It was always in my mind, every game. I need to throw a perfect game.' For every pitcher I think it's in their mind," Hernandez said. "Today it happened and it's something special. I don't have any words to explain this. This is pretty amazing. It doesn't happen every day." It was the third perfect game in baseball this season -- a first -- joining gems by Chicago's Philip Humber against the Mariners in April and San Francisco's Matt Cain versus Houston in June. More than half of all perfectos -- 12 -- have come in the last 25 seasons. This also was the sixth no-hitter in the majors this season, three of them at Safeco Field. Humber threw his gem in Seattle, then six Mariners pitchers combined to hold the Los Angeles Dodgers hitless at the park on June 8. There have been seven no-hitters in a season twice since 1900. It happened in 1990 and again in 1991, with Nolan Ryan throwing one in each of those years. For the Rays, it was an all-too-familiar feeling. This was the third time in four seasons they had a perfect game pitched against them, following efforts by Dallas Braden in 2010 and Mark Buehrle in 2009. "The one thing I've learned is that no-hitters and perfect games don't mean anything about tomorrow, anyway," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. Hernandez's dominance got stronger as the game progressed. He cruised for five innings, then pitched through tough at-bats, delay tactics and the mounting pressure of perfection to close out the gem. Hernandez struck out 12, including eight in the final four innings. He struck out the side in the sixth, did it again in the eighth and hit as high as 95 mph in the ninth. Two starts earlier against the New York Yankees, Hernandez tossed a two-hit shutout, leading Seattle manager Eric Wedge to call it the finest outing he's seen from Hernandez. Suffice to say, Wednesday was better. "It was special. He had special stuff," Wedge said. "But Felix is so consistently good that when he does take it up to another level, which we've seen him do through the course of the year, you never know how it's going to turn out." It was the seventh perfect game won 1-0, thanks largely to the hustle of shortstop Brendan Ryan. He led off the third with his first hit in 10 at-bats against Jeremy Hellickson (7-8), a sharp single to left. He was still at first with two outs when he got a great jump on a curveball that bounced in the dirt and escaped catcher Jose Lobaton. Ryan never hesitated at second and made it all the way to third. He then jogged home when Jesus Montero followed with a single to left. Ryan also had a defensive hand in keeping Hernandez perfect. B.J. Upton hit a grounder in the seventh that third baseman Kyle Seager dived toward but let go past. Ryan was there in the hole to field the bouncer and threw out Upton. The other impressive defensive play came on the first batter of the game when Eric Thames tracked down Sam Fuld's drive in deep right-center field. That's how strong Hernandez was. Only five of the 27 outs were recorded by the outfield. "You could throw any lineup out there today," Seattle catcher John Jaso said, "and it's close to the same result." Tampa Bay seemed to try another technique to disrupt Hernandez, and that also failed. With two outs in the seventh, Maddon came out to argue after plate umpire Rob Drake called strike one on a borderline pitch to Matt Joyce. Maddon stuck around for a minute or so to argue, finally getting ejected. When he left, Hernandez was still right in rhythm. "I was yelling at Joe to get ... out of there," Wedge said. It was the second no-hitter this season for the Mariners -- doubling the franchise's total entering the year -- and third total at Safeco Field after the park went more than a dozen years without one. After Humber's perfect game, a six-pack of Seattle pitchers tossed a combined no-hitter against the Dodgers in June. The six no-hitters is two shy of the record set in 1884, one short of the total in each of the 1990 and 1991 seasons. "Hard to believe. It's hard to believe," baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said. "Struck out five of the last six hitters. That's pretty good." NOTES: Seattle's last individual no-hitter came when Chris Bosio shut down Boston on April 22, 1993. Seattle's other no-hitter was thrown by Randy Johnson against Detroit on June 2, 1990. ... Tampa Bay was no-hit for the fifth time in franchise history. ... Maddon's ejection was his second of the season. ... Maddon said the team plans to keep INF Luke Scott on his rehab assignment in the minors through the weekend. Scott has been on the DL with an oblique strain.

Kyrie Irving needs to be traded to one place, and one place only

Kyrie Irving needs to be traded to one place, and one place only

The only way this Kyrie Irving trade request story makes any sense at all is if he demands to go to Houston. And gets there.

Yes, Houston. Home of James Harden. Potential future home of Carmelo Anthony. The Place Where Passing Goes To Die. The Antidote To Everything Warriors.

I mean, Irving reading the tea leaves and knowing the Cavs are about to enter a very dark period in their history is not the news here. Dan Gilbert no longer caring about running a basketball operation without empty offices has been the catalyst for LeBron James looking forward to life on the West Coast. The Cavs are a sinkhole collapsing so fast that the assumptions of them cakewalking to the 2018 NBA Finals are heading directly for the earth’s core.

But it’s where Irving goes that is fascinating, and Houston is the perfect place because (and we are presuming Daryl Morey can pry Anthony from the joke shop that is the New York Knickerbockers):

1) It would turn Golden State’s version of cap hell into a slight checking overdraft by comparison
2) It would make the Rockets’ offense a high-powered mess of glorious proportions
3) It would subject the Warriors to a direct stylistic showdown – namely, whether rapid, smart-minded ball movement is just a fad to be replacing by 21st century offensive stagflation.

Oh, Harden can pass, and Irving can pass, and Anthony . . . well, okay, Harden and Irving can pass. But they all function almost entirely with the ball, which means that at any given moment 66 percent of the Rockets’ most important players will be unhappy.

Thus, this is what we need, and what we need now. Trading Kyrie Irving is just satisfying his whim. Trading him to a place where we can put competing basketball styles to the test – now that would make the Western Conference playoffs worth caring about again.

And the Eastern Conference? Well, we’ve always wanted a relegation system in American sports, and now we’ve got it. Just fly toward the sun and hold your nose.

 

Report: Kyrie Irving requests trade from Cavaliers

Report: Kyrie Irving requests trade from Cavaliers

What is going on in Cleveland?

Last week, Kyrie Irving requested a trade from the Cavaliers, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst.

Irving reportedly wants to play for a team where he can have a bigger role, and no longer wants to play with LeBron James.

As Windhorst reported: "James was informed of Irving's request and was blindsided and disappointed."

Earlier this week, Irving made some interesting comments to Sports Illustrated.

"I understand we're in a very peculiar place," Irving said. "We just have to make sure that all our pieces are aligned first and then we go from there. It's the summer time, a lot of craziness going on in the NBA.

"Best to just observe and then see what happens. But obviously there are some things I'm pretty sure our organization wants to do, and we'll go from there.

"Obviously we have a great owner that's willing to spend a little money on guys that he believes in. At this point, we just see what happens throughout the summer."

Irving averaged 29.4 points and 4.4 assists per game during the NBA Finals, while shooting over 47 percent from the field and 42 percent from distance.

The four-time All Star is entering Year 3 of a 5-year contract worth more than $94 million.

He can opt out and become a free agent following the 2018-19 season.

Friendly reminder: The Cavs still have not hired a permanent general manager...

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller