The weekend leading up to this game the Mariners were to have played a 4 game series in Cleveland against the Indians. Mother nature had a different idea and all 4 games were postponed due to snow. It set Wednesdays game up to be a night to remember. Our "ace" of our pitching staff is a young phenom by the name of Felix Hernandez, or King Felix as he is so often referred to. He was on the mound on opening day for the Mariners and he threw 8 scoreless innings giving up only 3 hits and striking out 12 batters. So when it worked out he would be the starting pitcher for this game Chris and I knew we just had to have tickets. Tickets for this game in particular were hard to get. It had been sold out for quite some time and the only way to get tickets were for insane prices from people on EBay or through ticket brokers. Chris and I searched and searched and didn't give up and lucked out by finding 2 pretty good tickets for only 125 bucks for the pair on EBay. We jumped on it immediately and bought the tickets, how could we not?
Chris and I headed into the city early and had supper at Boston Beer Works across from Fenway Park. While we were there we drew plenty of looks since we were among the very few wearing Mariners gear. In one conversation with a guy sitting near us he asked us "so who is this pitcher pitching for you guys tonight, is he any good?" Chris responded by saying "uh yeah he is good and you will find out soon enough." The guy just kinda laughed as if to say "yeah right." You see Red Sox fans are like that. They seem to live in this little bubble where they think they have the best team ever and that no other players on any other team could possibly be any good and especially not better than anyone on their team. The ignorance drives me nuts. Little did we know that they would find out later that night just how good Felix Hernandez is.
After supper we met up with some friends, Kristen and Jeremy. We headed into the ballpark and visited while enjoying some cold beers. When it was time to head to our seats we parted ways as we did not have tickets together. Our seats were actually pretty good. Probably about 30 rows up from first base. We did have a big pole near us, but our seats were in a good enough spot that we could see everything. The media at the game was crazy. It was Dice-K mania everywhere you looked. There were Japanese signs all over, people with the Japanese flag painted on their faces, Dice-K headbands and of course a lot of Japanese people. When Ichiro stepped into the batters box the camera flashes were incredible. I have never seen anything like that. And when Dice-K wound up to throw his first pitch of the ball game it was even crazier. All the flashes going off, it was so cool.
Dice-K pitched a pretty good game. 7 innings, 8 hits and only giving up 3 runs and striking out 4. Not a bad outing for any pitcher really. Especially for one who was under the glaring spotlight and pressure to win in his first game on his home field. But it wasn't to be for him this night. What was supposed to be his night to shine became someone else's. Felix Hernandez swooped in and stole his spotlight and his thunder through 9 almost perfect innings of baseball. Perhaps on this night all of baseball realized just how good this 21 year old kid from Venezuela really is.Through 7 full innings Felix had yet to give up a hit. He was unbelievable. His pitches were downright nasty. His defense behind him though deserved some of the credit. Second baseman Jose Lopez had made about 4 amazing plays to that point to keep the no hitter going. Raul Ibanez made a great diving catch in left field that was for certain going to be a hit. Chris and I were in awe sitting in the stands watching what could unfold before our eyes. The Red Sox fans sitting around us couldn't comprehend that this young pitcher was this good and shutting their entire offence down. Felix was on the verge of making history.
You see a no hitter is a rare occurrence in baseball. In Major League history only 233 no hitters have happened. That's in over a hundred years. It is one of the hardest accomplishments in all of sports. A shut out in hockey is nothing compared to a pitcher being able to go 9 full innings and not allow a single person to get a hit. In the baseball almanac it describes it as this
--"Words alone cannot describe pitching's second highest "club" and still one of the most desirable goals — a no hitter. These elusive gems are masterpieces of a career on the mound and a mystical feat that must be witnessed to be fully appreciated. Tossing a complete game with no hits are all that is required to join this elite group of pitchers. A group we here at Baseball Almanac truly appreciate and hold in the highest regard during a day and age when the home run is king."
It wasn't to be for Felix on this night. His first pitch of the 8th inning was hit into center field for a base hit. Jose Lopez made a diving attempt to stop it but it got away from him. And so did Felix's no hitter. But he has everything to be proud of after such an amazing performance. It was the most incredible sporting event I have ever witnessed. He didn't give up another hit after that. He threw a complete game, 1 hit shutout while striking out 6. That's nothing to hang your head at. Felix's time will come, he will have his no hitter and he will go into the history books. But for us when people are talking about him 10 years from now Chris and I will be able to look back and remember that amazing April night at Fenway Park when we witnessed the brilliance and talent that IS Felix Hernandez and remember how we were there we he almost made history. It was awesome!