By Larry LaRue The News Tribune
SEATTLE — Once Felix Hernandez had pitched himself and the Seattle Mariners into history, manager Eric Wedge was asked to try to put his perfect game in context.
“Felix is consistently so good, but today he went to another level,” Wedge said. “On top of everything else, it was a 1-0 game, and you know how fragile they are.
“You’re talking about a pitcher with great talent and all the intangibles. First and foremost, I’m a baseball fan — and this game was exciting for Felix, his teammates, the fans and anyone listening on radio or watching on television.”
“In the clubhouse after the game, they took advantage of me,” Hernandez said, grinning.
“The beer shower,” catcher John Jaso said.
Rookie Trayvon Robinson played left field Wednesday, and knew how different the game was by what he was feeling from the stands.
“The energy out there was amazing,” he said. “I told myself before the eighth inning, ‘Anything out here, I’m going for it.’ We all knew how special this was.”
Second baseman Dustin Ackley knew early on.
“By the third or fourth inning, you’re thinking, ‘He may be perfect today,’” Ackley said. “That’s an adrenaline rush.”
One of the few “uh-oh” moments came in the seventh inning, when B.J. Upton rolled a ground ball toward the left side of the infield. Third baseman Kyle Seager dived for the ball and missed. Shortstop Brendan Ryan fielded it and threw Upton out.
Was it a tough play?
“Only because Kyle got in the way,” Ryan deadpanned. “You stay focused. The last inning, you’re just praying somebody doesn’t bloop one over first base.”
The best defensive play of the day may have been the first one, when Tampa Bay leadoff hitter Sam Fuld drilled a ball deep to right-center field and Eric Thames ran it down.
“I got loose before the game, but you’re not really game loose,” Thames said. “I just ran it down. It was the first play of the game. I didn’t get really nervous until about the seventh inning.
“I just watched the swings guys were taking against him. It was ridiculous what he was doing.”
Perhaps no one could appreciate what Hernandez did more than fellow starting pitcher Jason Vargas.
“You watch all the hard work he puts into his game, watch how good he is, and you know there aren’t any guarantees anyone will have a day like this,” Vargas said. “You’re facing big league hitters, and you can’t do any better than that.”