In the span of a few hours, New York Yankees pitcher Domingo Germán went from one of the worst stretches of his career to MLB history.
The right-hander threw the 24th perfect game in MLB history in an 11-0 Yankees win Wednesday, setting down the moribund Oakland Athletics 27 in a row at a sparsely attended Oakland Coliseum. It is the fourth perfect game in Yankees history, as Germán joins Don Larsen, David Wells and David Cone, giving the franchise the most among MLB teams.
The final stat line: 9 innings pitched, 0 hits, 0 walks, 9 strikeouts, 99 pitches.
The feat snaps an 11-year drought since the last perfect game, when Seattle Mariners great Félix Hernández found perfection on Aug. 15, 2012. It was the longest drought since a 13-year span between 1968 (Catfish Hunter) and 1981 (Len Barker).
As is true for all perfect games, it wasn’t a purely individual feat for Germán, who was helped by defensive plays such as this diving stop in the fifth inning.
Of course, the story here is Germán, who was as far away from perfection as nearly any pitcher in MLB over the past couple of months, and was also dealing with a recent family tragedy.
Domingo Germán dedicates perfect game to late uncle
After the game, Germán revealed through an interpreter he was pitching only two days after his uncle died. He dedicated the accomplishment to his late family member:
“I cried a lot yesterday in the clubhouse. I had him with me throughout the whole game. I was thinking about him, and it happened. This game is a tribute to him.
“He would have been so happy. He was always someone who brought joy to our family and it happened for him to watch this from up there.”
Germán was booed by Yankees fans in his previous start
Rewind six days, and you’d see Germán walking off the mound at Yankee Stadium, getting heartily booed after allowing 10 runs (eight earned), eight hits and two walks in 3 1/3 innings against the Mariners, increasing his ERA to 5.10. That ERA would’ve been the sixth-worst in MLB entering Wednesday, had Germán thrown enough innings to qualify.
Wednesday was reportedly the first perfect game to ever be thrown after allowing eight earned runs or more in the previous start.
The previous game was also Germán’s second straight clunker, as he allowed seven earned runs in his previous start against the Boston Red Sox. It had been that kind of season for Germán, who saw similar results in April. His May might’ve been considered a good stretch, had he not been ejected and suspended 10 games for allegedly violating MLB’s foreign substance policy.
Germán wasn’t even a clear pick for a rotation spot with the Yankees entering this season. He had to battle for the final spot after an up-and-down first six years with the team. His had seen him put together an 18-4 record in 2019, but also post a 5.57 ERA in 2018 and miss the entire 2020 season due to an 81-game domestic violence suspension.
Perfect games truly can come from anywhere. For every Sandy Koufax, there’s a Philip Humber. Germán’s historic night, however, might be the most surprising of them all — unless you consider the caliber of the opponent.
Another low for the A’s
If there’s a knock against Germán’s feat, it’s that it was against the A’s, whose status as a major-league team gets more tenuous by the day.
Here’s a quick explanation of the level of futility Germán was facing. The batting averages of the A’s starting lineup through Wednesday: .179, .232, .236, .235, .187, .200, .201, .198, .260. If a pitcher wants a career night, a trip to Oakland is a fine way to start.
The team was already the worst in MLB with a historically bad 21-60 record and a minus-223 run differential entering Wednesday. They were already going through a contentious relocation process that will likely see them land in Las Vegas over the next few years. Their attendance was at a historic low after two decades of notoriously low payrolls with only sporadic regular-season success.
And now, a perfect game from Germán. You can really only wonder if this is rock-bottom for the A’s.