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updated: 4/22/2012 2:45 AM

Humber's perfect game has a heart-stopping finish

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  • White Sox starting pitcher Phil Humber, front right, is embraced after pitching a perfect baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Saturday, April 21, 2012, in Seattle.

      White Sox starting pitcher Phil Humber, front right, is embraced after pitching a perfect baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Saturday, April 21, 2012, in Seattle.
    Associated Press

  • Fans stand as Phil Humber readies to throw to his final batter Saturday in Seattle.

      Fans stand as Phil Humber readies to throw to his final batter Saturday in Seattle.
    Associated Press

  • Phil Humber is mobbed by teammates after pitching a perfect game. It was the 21st perfect game in major-league history.

      Phil Humber is mobbed by teammates after pitching a perfect game. It was the 21st perfect game in major-league history.
    Associated Press

  • Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Phil Humber waves his cap after pitching a perfect baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Saturday, April 21, 2012, in Seattle. The White Sox won 4-0.

      Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Phil Humber waves his cap after pitching a perfect baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Saturday, April 21, 2012, in Seattle. The White Sox won 4-0.
    Associated Press

  • Phil Humber, right, throws one of his final pitches of his perfect baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Saturday, April 21, 2012, in Seattle. The White Sox won 4-0.

      Phil Humber, right, throws one of his final pitches of his perfect baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Saturday, April 21, 2012, in Seattle. The White Sox won 4-0.
    Associated Press

  • Phil Humber, left, reacts after pitching a perfect baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Saturday, April 21, 2012, in Seattle. The White Sox won 4-0.

      Phil Humber, left, reacts after pitching a perfect baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Saturday, April 21, 2012, in Seattle. The White Sox won 4-0.
    Associated Press

 
 

Before Mark Buehrle nailed down his perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays on July 23, 2009, center fielder Dewayne Wise had to make a remarkable catch on Gabe Kapler's deep drive leading off the ninth inning.

Ten days later, the Los Angeles Angels came to U.S. Cellular Field and outfielder Torii Hunter, a nine-time Gold Glove winner, called Wise's leaping, juggling grab the best catch in major-league history.

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Fast forward to Saturday.

Just one out away from the 21st perfect game in major-league history, White Sox No. 5 starter Phil Humber went to a full count on Seattle Mariners pinch-hitter Brenden Ryan.

Humber delivered a slider that rode outside, and Ryan offered at the pitch.

While home-plate umpire Paul Runge was calling out Ryan for the game-ending strikeout, the pitch got away from Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski.

An anxious Humber barked out directions as Pierzynski retrieved the ball and threw down to first baseman Paul Konerko, sealing the White Sox' 4-0 win over the Mariners at Safeco Field and preserving history.

"I saw it get away from A.J., saw the umpire ring (Ryan) up," Humber told reporters. "I know (Pierzynski) saw it. I saw (Ryan), obviously he didn't think he swung so he was standing there talking to the umpire.

"So I knew as long as A.J. didn't trip over himself or something bad like that, he just needed to play catch with Paulie. The rest of it was kind of a blur."

Let's refresh Humber's memory.

In just his second start of the season -- the 29-year-old Texan was skipped in his first outing due to an April 10 rainout at Cleveland -- Humber needed just 96 pitches to make history, and 67 were strikes.

While pitching the first complete game of his career, the right-hander had to negotiate a 3-ball count only three times.

"He did a great job of staying on the plate," Seattle manager Eric Wedge told reporters. "He was in and out, he worked up and down when he needed to and he pitched a great ballgame."

A humble Humber didn't think he was anything special.

"Honestly, I didn't feel like I had great stuff," Humber said. "I felt like maybe I was rushing a little bit at the beginning and then I was able to kind of slow myself down a little bit and I had a lot more life on my ball at the end of the game."

The Mariners didn't really come close to getting a hit off Humber. Dustin Ackley lined out to right fielder Alex Rios in the fourth inning and Kyle Seager lined out to left fielder Brent Lillibridge -- a defensive replacement for Dayan Viciedo -- in the eighth.

Other than that, Humber mixed a standout slider with his fastball and was in complete control.

"There were a couple balls that were hit hard," Humber said. "Lilly made a great play in left and Rios made a good play in right. There are other plays that our guys make look easy that aren't really that easy.

"I don't know if I'd say I dominated them. Obviously, the balls were hit at people and I'm thankful for that. A well-pitched game and definitely something I'll never forget."

The White Sox gave Humber all the offensive support he needed early, when Konerko hit a solo home run in the second inning and added an RBI single in the third. Pierzynski also delivered a run-scoring single in the third.

What a day for Humber, whom the Sox claimed off waivers from the Oakland A's on Jan. 18, 2011.

Not only did he prove he belongs in the majors last season while going 9-9 with a 3.75 ERA, Humber's wife Kristan is expecting the couple's first child in early May.

"I'm just so happy," said Humber, drafted No. 3 overall by the New York Mets in 2004 before having Tommy John surgery a year later. "There's so many good things that are happening right now. This just adds to the list, and God is so good. I've got a little boy on the way and I just want to say hi to my wife who's home. I love you baby ... this is for you."

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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