King Felix pitches perfect game against the Rays

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6:02 p.m EDT update: Hernandez is perfect, getting a called third strike on Sean Rodriguez to end the ninth. It’s the first perfect game in Mariners history, and the Rays became the first team ever to be on the losing end of three perfect games.

Hernandez ended up striking out five of the final six hitters he faced to end the day with 12 strikeouts. It’s his first no-hitter and perfect game and eighth career shutout.

5:48 p.m. EDT update: The eighth inning figured to be a bigger test for Hernandez than the ninth, but King Felix struck out Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist and Carlos Pena to keep the perfect game going. He’s at 10 strikeouts and 98 pitches through eight.

The Rays are due to send up Jose Lobaton, Elliot Johnson and Sean Rodriguez in the ninth. Those three are hitting a respective .228, .245 and .207 this season. The Rays, however, have both Jeff Keppinger and Desmond Jennings available off the bench and figure to use them. Keppinger is hitting .321, while Jennings is at .255.

5:25 p.m. EDT update: Hernandez is perfect through seven, though Rays manager Joe Maddon tried to disrupt his rhythm by getting tossed and taking part in a lengthy discussion with home plate umpire Rob Drake with two outs in the inning.

Maddon had a case: the called strike to Matt Joyce to start his at-bat was well off the plate. But while Hernandez has been getting calls, Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson hasn’t fared badly there himself. That’s why it’s a 1-0 game with no walks and only a couple of three-ball counts through 6 1/2 innings.

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Felix Hernandez is dealing at Safeco Field today. He’s gone 18 up, 18 down against the Rays, and he’s at just 69 pitches with seven strikeouts in a 1-0 game.

Whether it results in a no-hitter or a perfect game is anyone’s guess, but he’s certainly showing that kind of form against a lineup that includes just one guy batting over .275 in Evan Longoria. It’s MLB.tv’s free game of the day, so most everyone can go check it out if they wish.

For what it’s worth, Hernandez has seven career shutouts, three of them coming this year. He’s pitched one one-hitter, that coming against the Red Sox way back on April 11, 2007. He also allowed one hit over eight scoreless innings against the Twins earlier this season.

The Royals are paying everyone. Why can’t all of the other teams?

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Over the past several weeks we’ve heard a lot of news about teams furloughing front office and scouting staff, leveling pay cuts for those who remain and, most recently, ceasing stipends to minor league players and releasing them en masse. The message being sent, intentionally or otherwise, is that baseball teams are feeling the pinch.

The Kansas City Royals, however, are a different story.

Jon Heyman reported this afternoon that the Royals are paying their minor leaguers through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended, and unlike so many other teams, they are not releasing players either. Jeff Passan, meanwhile, reports that the Royals will not lay any team employees off or furlough anyone. “Nearly 150 employees will not take pay cuts,” he says, though “higher-level employees will take tiered cuts.” Passan adds that the organization intends to restore the lost pay due to those higher-level employees in the future when revenue ramps back up, making them whole.

While baseball finances are murky at best and opaque in most instances, most people agree that the Royals are one of the lower-revenue franchises in the game. They are also near the bottom as far as franchise value goes. Finally, they have the newest ownership group in all of baseball, which means that the group almost certainly has a lot of debt and very little if any equity in the franchise. Any way you slice it, cashflow is likely tighter in Kansas City than almost anywhere else.

Yet the Royals are paying minor leaguers and front office employees while a great number of other teams are not. What’s their excuse?