Quick, answer this trivia question:
Who was the losing pitcher in Felix Hernandez’ perfect game on Wednesday night?
Tampa Bay’s Jeremy Hellickson was the starting pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays in their 1-0 loss to Seattle as Hernandez tossed the 23rd perfect game in Major League Baseball history.
Hellickson had a great outing in that loss, which prompted today’s blog. Which pitchers had the best performances when the opposing pitcher threw a perfect game against them? Here’s a look at my choices for the best 10.
1. Bob Hendley, Chicago Cubs, September 9, 1965 (perfect game thrown by Sandy Koufax, L.A. Dodgers). Hendley, who was 48-52 in a seven-year career, matched Hall-of-Famer Koufax pitch-for-pitch in this game. Hendley gave up only one hit (a seventh-inning double); the lone run in this 1-0 loss for Hendley was scored in the fifth inning when a walk, sacrifice bunt, stolen base and throwing error by the catcher accounted for the unearned run. Hendley struck out three and walked one in his complete-game outing.
2. Tim Belcher, Los Angeles Dodgers, September 16, 1988 (perfect game thrown by Tom Browning, Cincinnati). Belcher tossed a complete game and allowed only three hits. The only run scored by the Reds was on a double and infield hit in the sixth inning. An errant thrown on the infield hit scored the unearned run. Belcher had seven strikeouts in the game and won 146 games in his career.
3. Ed Walsh, Chicago White Sox, October 2, 1908 (perfect game thrown by Addie Joss, Cleveland). Walsh fanned 15 and walked only one in this 1-0 loss. He pitched a complete game four-hitter. The unearned run scored in the third inning.
4. Mike Morgan, Los Angeles Dodgers, July 28, 1991 (perfect game thrown by Dennis Martinez, Montreal). Morgan, who was an all-star in ’91, pitched nine innings of four-hit ball in the 2-0 loss. The Expos scored their runs in the seventh inning thanks to a pair of infield errors. Morgan struck out five and walked one in the contest. He went on to win 141 games in his career.
5. Jim McCormick, Cleveland, June 12, 1880 (perfect game thrown by Lee Richmond, Worcester). McCormick fired a complete game three-hitter in this 1-0 loss. He struck out seven and did not allow an earned run in the very first perfect game in MLB history.
6. Josh Johnson, Florida, May 29, 2010 (perfect game thrown by Roy Halladay, Philadelphia). Johnson, who won the National League ERA title in 2010, pitched seven innings in the 1-0 loss, allowing seven hits and striking out seven. A single and an outfield error plated the game’s only run in the third inning.
7. Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa Bay, August 15, 2012 (perfect game thrown by Felix Hernandez, Seattle). The most recent victim of the perfect game, Hellickson gave up one earned run in the 1-0 loss. He allowed only five hits and one walk in his seven innings of work.
8. Charlie Hough, Texas, September 30, 1984 (perfect game thrown by Mike Witt, California). Knuckleballer Hough surrendered an unearned run in the seventh inning in the 1-0 loss. His complete-game outing included three strikeouts, three walks and seven hits. Hough’s 25-year career included 216 wins.
9. Luis Leal, Toronto, May 15, 1981 (perfect game thrown by Len Barker, Cleveland). Two unearned runs in the first inning hurt Leal, as he threw a complete game, allowing seven hits in eight innings of work in the 3-0 loss. He allowed one earned run in the eighth inning. He led the American League in losses in 1981 with 13.
10. Rube Waddell, Philadelphia A’s, May 5, 1904 (perfect game thrown by Cy Young, Boston). Waddell lost 3-0 in his complete-game outing. He allowed 10 hits and struck out six in the game.
Here’s a few more stats regarding the losing pitcher in the 23 Perfect Games:
* Twelve of the 23 losing pitchers pitched a complete game. Seventeen of the 23 pitched at least seven innings in their loss.
* Seven of the 23 pitchers did not give up an earned run in their loss. Two more only gave up one earned run.
* Walsh was the only losing pitcher in a perfect game to strike out eight or more batters in the game (he struck out 15).
* Seven of the games were 1-0 contests.
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