Monday, April 23, 2012
Humber pitches a perfect game
This Saturday, White Sox pitcher Philip Humber pitched the 21st perfect game in baseball history. Not a well known name, but Humber was once a highly touted prospect. He was drafted #3 overall by the Mets in 2004 after a dominating college career at Rice University. But, in his first season with the Mets Humber left a game early due to elbow pain caused by bone spurs. He then had Tommy John surgery. Humber was brought up to start a game during the Mets collapse in 2007, but did not pitch well. After the season, Humber was dealt along with some other prospects for Johan Santana.
Humber didn't do much with the Twins either, spending most of his time in the minors. He was allowed to leave as a free agent after 2009 and signed with the Royals. Even though the Royals pitching is weak, Humber wasn't kept around after the 2010 season. He then signed with the Athletics, but his stay was short and was waived a month later. Humber then signed with the White Sox and at age 28 was given a chance to start in the big leagues due to Jake Peavy's injury. Sox pitching coach Don Cooper helped improve his mechanics and got him to use a slider. Humber went 9-9 with a 3.75 ERA in 163 innings in 2011.
Still, Humber is a unlikely candidate to pitch a perfect game. But then again, Dallas Braden pitched a perfect game two years ago. Braden is known most for yelling at A-Rod for walking across the pitcher's mound. Don Larsen is best known for pitching the only perfect game in World Series history, but he had a career 81-91 record. Larsen pitched a perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series, and wasn't sure he was pitching until right before the game. Just two years earlier, he lost 21 games on a bad Orioles team before gettting traded to the Yankees. Larsen's perfect game was the only one between Charlie Robertson's in 1922 and Jim Bunning's in 1964.
Out of the 21 perfect games in history, only 6 of them had been done by Hall of Famers. John M Ward, Cy Young, Addie Joss, Bunning, Sandy Koufax, and Catfish Hunter. Randy Johnson is a certain Hall of Famer when elgilble and Roy Halladay looks to be on a Hall track as well. Johnson was also the oldest pitcher to pitch a perfect game at age 40. Dennis Martinez(El Presidente) is the only foreign born pitcher to pitch a perfect game, getting his in 1991 with the Expos. 12 of the 21 perfect games have happened since Len Barker's in 1981. David Wells claimed to be hungover during his perfect game in 1998. Missouri native Mark Buehrle also pitched one in 2009 with the White Sox.
Armando Gallaraga nearly pitched one for the Tigers in 2010, but umpire Jim Joyce blew the call at first for the 27th out. Gallaraga is currently out of the league now. Pirates pitcher Harvey Haddix pitched 12 perfect innings against the Braves in 1959, but gave up a run in the 13th to lose the game. Pedro Martinez pitched 9 perfect innings for the Expos in 1995, but gave up a leadoff double in the tenth and was replaced.