Giants

Felix Hernandez tosses MLB's 23rd perfecto

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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.

Evan Longoria reacts to Giants' 'big, big acquisition' of Andrew McCutchen

Evan Longoria reacts to Giants' 'big, big acquisition' of Andrew McCutchen

When Evan Longoria heard he was being traded to the Giants, he instantly thought of the three World Series trophies. 

"They've won three World Series in the past eight years or whatever, everyone knows that," Longoria said Wednesday on KNBR. "It's a great place to be. The fan base is amazing. I'm just looking forward to playing in front of that and being a part of that." 

That's true, the Giants have won three titles in the last eight years. At one point, it was three in five years, building a modern-day dynasty. That also means they have come up short the last three years. 

In 2017, the Giants fell well beyond short. Playing his whole career in the American League East for the Tampa Bay Rays, Longoria didn't realize quite how bad things were going in San Francisco this past season. 

His wife did though. 

"My wife was actually the one that said, 'Hey, did you know the Giants basically had the worst record in baseball last year?'" Longoria shared. "I said 'I'm excited to be going to a contender' and she said 'Uhh... wait a second here.' But I know that those things happen and it's very tough to compete atop of the division every year and there's years that you have to punt so to speak and start preparing for next year." 

None of that matters to Longoria. The past is the past. All Longoria cares about now is 2018 and beyond. And he believes the Giants are in line to make some more Even Year Magic.

"I truly believe that this organization, obviously with the moves that they've made this offseason, with the recent acquisition of [Andrew] McCutchen, I believe that they're still not done," Longoria says. "I think they wanna do a few more things and that shows a committment to winning. We're definitely on the path to turning it around this year." 

The Giants acquired McCutchen from the Pirates on Monday for prospects Bryan Reynolds and Kyle Crick. Longoria couldn't be any more excited to be in the same lineup as McCutchen. 

"It's a big, big acquisition," Longoria said. "I think when you look at Cutch's numbers, they speak for themselves. When you look at what he's done on the baseball field is probably some of the best numbers and performances in the last 10 years in the National League.

"When you add a player like that, it brings a mindset that the team is committed to winning and I've heard nothing but great things about McCutchen in the clubhouse and off the field too. Whether or not you can quantify it, I believe those things go a long way." 

Longoria and McCutchen combined for 48 home runs and 174 RBI in 2017. 

Gameday: Look for Curry to make statement against rising Bulls point guard

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USATSI

Gameday: Look for Curry to make statement against rising Bulls point guard

The Warriors will be without Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala, when they aim to tie a franchise record for consecutive road wins Wednesday as they face the improving Chicago Bulls at United Center.

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 4 p.m., with tipoff scheduled for 5:05.

In seeking their 14th straight road win, the Warriors (36-9) will be confronting quite a different herd of Bulls than the team they crushed 143-94 two months ago in Oakland. Neither Kevin Durant nor Green was available in that rout, which that was the highest point total allowed by the Bulls since November 1990.

After a 3-20 start, the Bulls (17-27) righted themselves with a seven-game win streak in December and have won 14 of their last 21. The offense has steadily improved, averaging 94.5 points in October/November to 112.0 in January.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 8

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Stephen Curry vs. Kris Dunn: Several factors are responsible for the rise of the Bulls, but none may be more important than the play of Dunn, the fifth overall pick in the 2016 draft. Acquired in the June 2017 trade that sent Jimmy Butler to Minnesota, Dunn is the engine of a Chicago offense that since Dec. 6 has operated at the fifth-fastest pace in the NBA. He averaged 12.0 points and 8.4 assists over the last five games. Curry missed most of December but has been playing well since returning. He loves the challenge of a rising point guard. He’ll be out to make a statement.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: F Draymond Green (R shoulder soreness) and F Andre Iguodala (L calf contusion) are listed as out.

Bulls: G Cameron Payne (R foot surgery) is listed as out.

LAST 10

Warriors: 8-2.

Bulls: 5-5.

GAME OFFICIALS

Ron Garretson (crew chief), Mark Ayotte, Scott Twardoski

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors won the first of two meetings this season, 143-94, on Nov. 24 in Oakland. The teams split the series last season, each winning on its own floor. The Warriors have won six of the last nine meetings overall.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

KD UNLEASHED: Since returning Jan. 10, after a three-game absence, Durant has been on a tear, averaging 30.8 points on 62.5-percent shooting, including 60 percent from beyond the arc. Most teams don’t have anyone that matches up with him, and the Bulls certainly don’t. The closest is Lauri Markkanen, and though he has the length (7 feet), he has no chance of slowing Durant. All indications point to another big night.

THE BOMBERS: Chicago has made at least 10 3-pointers in each of its last nine home games, the longest such streak in franchise history. They’ve made at least 15 treys in each of the last three games. Rookie forward Markkanen drilled his 100th career triple in his 41st game, the fastest rate in league history. He averaged 23.0 points over his last three games, making 15 3-pointers in the process. With Green out, the Warriors will give him a variety of looks, with one of them being Durant.

WARRIORS DEPTH: The absence of Green and Iguodala will hurt the Warriors, who are playing their fourth game in six nights. Jordan Bell will start for Green, but the Warriors will have to alter their offense -- Green leads team in assists -- while patching together a defense that will be without two players that make an impact on that end. Omri Casspi, Kevon Looney and Pat McCaw will have opportunities.