White Sox right-hander Philip Humber took the mound Saturday afternoon at Seattle’s Safeco Field as the owner of an uninspiring 4.06 career ERA.
When nine innings were up, the 29-year-old starter fell to the grass a few feet in front of home plate as a member of major league history.
Humber tossed nine perfect framess against the Mariners, striking out nine batters, walking none, and yielding only a handful of hard-hit balls (all of which were converted into outs). He needed just 96 pitches, and 67 of those deliveries went for strikes.
It was the first perfect game of Humber’s career, the third in White Sox history, and the 21st in MLB.
“I can’t even put it into words,” Humber told the FOX broadcast in a postgame interview, shortly before being doused with a bucket of ice water by his teammates. He dedicated the achievement to his wife.
Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.
Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.
Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.
What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.
That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.