While most of the baseball-loving nation was forced to watch another a typical Red Sox-Yankees four-hour marathon, Philip Humber threw the 21st perfect game in big-league history Saturday in the White Sox’s 4-0 win over the Mariners.
The perfect game is largely the providence of great pitchers, but Humber is certainly more Dallas Braden than Roy Halladay or Randy Johnson. The worst pitcher to throw a perfect game was Charlie Robertson, a right-hander for the White Sox who shut down the Tigers on April 30, 1922. Next on the that list would be Cleveland’s Len Barker, who was perfect against the Jays on May 15, 1981. Humber and Braden could both finish up with significantly better careers than those two, though there’s still plenty of time left for that to be decided.
As for the team Humber shut down, well, yeah, the Mariners are really that bad. Again. They entered the day next-to-last in the AL in scoring, with a .235 average and 11 homers in 15 games. They finished last year last in the majors in runs scored, average, OBP and slugging. The 2012 lineup figured to be improved with Jesus Montero’s addition and another year of growth from Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager, but it hasn’t materialized yet.
After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.
According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.
Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.
Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.