Journeyman Philip Humber became the 21st Major League Baseball pitcher to throw a perfect game when the Chicago White Sox beat the Seattle Mariners 4-0 at Safeco Field in Seattle on Apr. 21. It was the first perfect game in the majors since Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies pitched one in May 2010 against the Florida Marlins. The perfect game was the third ever by a White Sox pitcher, with Charles Robertson first achieving the feat back in 1922 and Mark Buehrle equaling it in 2009.
Humber made it to the Majors after being drafted third overall in 2004 by the New York Mets. He was selected right after the Detroit Tigers chose pitcher Justin Verlander. However, Humber’s career seemed to be jinxed from the start since he had to undergo Tommy John surgery to have an elbow-ligament replaced in 2005 and didn’t record his first win until 2010 as a member of the Kansas City Royals.
Humber came close to blowing his perfect outing in the ninth inning after falling behind in the count to Michael Saunders 3-0. However he fought hard and struck Saunders out. The next batter was John Jaso, who flied out. Humber then struck out Brendan Ryan to close the game after reaching a full count. Ryan, who was pinch hitting, checked his swing with the count full and the ball managed to get away from White Sox catcher A. J. Pierzynski, who scooped it up and threw to first base to complete the out.
Pierzynski claimed he was more nervous in this game than he was when he played in the World Series. He said it just came out of nowhere and he wanted to make sure Humber would be remembered forever by getting the perfect game. Humber said he thought it might have been over once the ball got away from Pierzynski on the last pitch, but once he saw the umpire call it a strike he was overcome with excitement, emotion, joy, and gratitude.
The 29-year-old Humber entered the game with just 11 victories in 29 major league starts and proved you don’t have to be an experienced pitcher or a Hall of Famer to achieve something special in the sport. His 11 wins were the second-lowest of all pitchers who have pitched perfect games. In fact Robertson had just one win and four starts to his name when he threw his in 1922.
It was also Humber’s first complete game in the majors and the right-hander ended it with nine strikeouts and a total of 96 pitches. In his first start of the season five days earlier Humber threw 115 pitches over 5 1/3 innings resulting in a no-decision in a game against the Baltimore Orioles. Chicago claimed Humber from Oakland on waivers in January 2011and he went 9-9 last season. He pitched 163 innings and had an ERA of 3.75 in what was his first full season in the majors as a starting pitcher.