During bids for no-hitter and perfect games, conventional baseball superstition demands that the pitcher who throws the jewel be left alone. Teammates and trainers dodge.
But after Domingo Germán finished a perfect seventh inning Wednesday at the Oakland Coliseum, Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake sat beside him and chatted.
Tradition is not a problem. Germán set up the next six hitters in the Athletics lineup to pitch the 24th perfect game in Major League Baseball history in an 11–0 victory.
“It's very exciting,” Germán said in Spanish through an interpreter during an interview on the pitch after the game. “When you think of something that's really unique in baseball. Not many people have the chance to put on a perfect game and achieve something like this.”
After a spate of those – two in 2010 and three in 2012 – nearly 11 years have passed since Seattle Mariners star Félix Hernández threw the major league's most recent perfect game.
Germán, who entered the game with a 5.10 ERA this season, kept a clean sheet even after a long delay in the dugout as his team scored six points in the top of the fifth inning; when Oakland's pitcher left injured in seventh; and when the Yankees had more runs in the ninth. And he kept his rhythm with two outs in the bottom of the eighth when a ball flew through the Oakland bullpen and momentarily halted his battle with Jonah Bride.
A modest crowd of 12,479 in Oakland, California, rose to their feet as Germán came out to start the ninth inning and chanted “Come on, Yankees” as he faced a first-inning batter.
Germán completed a perfect game by pushing the groundout of Esteury Ruiz, the fast-paced Oakland outfielder, to join the club with Hernández, a player he called his childhood “idol”.
“That last inning was very different,” said Germán. “I felt an amount of pressure that I had never felt before.”
He continued: “So much pressure but so rewarding.”
Germán dedicated the show to his uncle who died two days ago who “has always been someone who really brought a lot of joy to our family”.
“I cried a lot yesterday,” he said. “I carry it with me throughout the game.”
Afterwards, teammates doused Germán with refrigerant during his television interview, and he was photographed with the game ball and his catcher, Kyle Higashioka, and later his other teammates.
It was the fourth perfect game in Yankees history, following Don Larsen in the 1956 World Series, David Wells in 1998 and David Cone in 1999. It was also the second Yankee no-hitter in the last three seasons, following a 2021 performance by Corey. Cluber against the Texas Rangers. Higashioka was behind the plate for both games.
Germán entered the game throwing his curveballs about 40 percent of the time this season, even more than his fastballs, and Higashioka said it was a key shot on Wednesday as Germán used it to record 20 of his 27 outs.
“He was outstanding tonight and he deserves all the credit,” said Higashioka.
The masterpiece of the game is the high point, so far, in an unbalanced season for Germán. He had been suspended for 10 games in mid-May for breaching league rules against the use of foreign substances on balls. He has been on strong runs, like when he only allowed one 8 ⅓ innings against Cleveland last month. But his last two starts have come a long way from that show, racking up 15 earned runs over 5 ⅓ innings against Boston and Seattle.
An uneven season is nothing new for Germán. During his six-plus years in the majors, he experienced periods of both success and failure, having dealt with multiple injuries and serving an 81-game suspension spanning parts of the 2019 season and all of 2020 for violations of MLB's domestic violence policy.
But for one night in Oakland, he kept it all. He said he had been thinking about perfection throughout Wednesday's game. And, in the end, no one can touch it.