Iwakuma joins Felix, Unit in Seattle no-hit history
By Chad Thornburg
Hisashi Iwakuma pitched his way into the record books Wednesday, tossing the fifth no-hitter in Seattle Mariners history. It was the first no-no for the club since Felix Hernandez pitched the franchise's only perfect game in 2012.
Seattle's relatively brief no-hitter history begins on June 2, 1990, against Detroit, when Randy Johnson came through for Seattle, giving the club its first no-no in 14 years of baseball. The Big Unit gave up six walks, but struck out eight to win, 2-0, against the Tigers in the Kingdome. Johnson also had two near no-hitters for the Mariners, but gave up 9th-inning singles to Oakland in 1991 and 1993.
In the game against Detroit, Johnson threw 50 pitches over 94 mph, striking out Cecil Fielder (Prince's dad) twice. He ended the game with a 97-mph heater to strike out Mike Heath.
Johnson's masterpiece foreshadowed that the 1990s would be different for the long-suffering franchise. In 1991, the Mariners had their first winning season. Showing the flame-thrower's longevity, Johnson threw a perfect game for the Arizona Diamondbacks 13 years later.
The Mariners' second no-hitter came courtesy of Chris Bosio against the Red Sox on April 22, 1993. Bosio didn't have to deal with the pressure of chasing a perfect game, walking the first two batters he faced before settling into a rhythm on the way to a 7-0 win.
Still, it's easy to wonder what could have been. Bosio was perfect the rest of the way, recording 27 consecutive outs, including four strikeouts.
On June 8, 2012, the Mariners had one of the most unique no-hitters in baseball history. Kevin Millwood, Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor, Lucas Luetge, Brandon League and Tom Wilhelmsen combined to no-hit the Dodgers in a 1-0 win, providing a jolt of excitement to the last-place club.
The six pitchers were the most-ever used in a no-hitter, and were significant for their lack of notoriety. Millwood -- who pitched six of the innings before leaving with a groin injury -- was a 37-year-old journeyman whose lone All-Star selection came in the 20th century. Wilhelmsen, Seattle's closer, left the game from 2005 through 2009, tending bar in Arizona before joining an independent league team and then trying out for the Mariners.
Seattle's most impressive no-hitter came on Aug. 15, 2012, when King Felix struck out 12 Tampa Bay batters on the way to a 1-0 victory and Seattle's first and only perfect game.
During baseball's 23rd-ever perfect game, Hernandez struck out the side in the sixth and eighth innings. The right-handed ace struck out eight of the final 12 batters he faced, his fastball gaining velocity over the course of the game. Having been on the losing end of Philip Humber's perfect game earlier in the season, this marked the first time a team was ever on the giving and receiving end of a perfect game in the same season.
The game solidified Hernandez's place among the game's elite pitchers. Having never pitched in a playoff game, Seattle's ace has had some of the best stuff in the league since his days as a 19-year-old rookie. Thereafter, he won the Cy Young Award in 2010.
"The stuff was on par with anything I've ever seen," Rays' All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria said. "He was able to just make pitches in any count. It seemed like every pitch you thought he was going to throw at a certain point, or you guess a pitch, it was the other pitch."
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.