By Michael Wagaman
Since arriving in the big leagues six years ago, Domingo Germán has been anything but perfect.
The New York Yankees right-hander pitched the 24th perfect game in major league history Wednesday night, retiring every Oakland batter in an 11-0 victory over the Athletics.
It was the first perfect game since Seattle Mariners ace Félix Hernández threw one against the Tampa Bay Rays on Aug. 15, 2012. There were three that season — but none since until Germán finished off the first no-hitter in the majors this year.
He joined Don Larsen (1956), David Wells (1998) and David Cone (1999) as Yankees to pitch perfect games. Larsen’s gem came in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
“So exciting,” Germán said through a translator. “When you think about something very unique in baseball, not many people have an opportunity to pitch a perfect game. To accomplish something like this in my career is something that I’m going to remember forever.”
Coming off a pair of terrible starts, Germán (5-5) struck out nine of 27 hitters against the A’s, who have the worst record in the majors at 21-61.
The 30-year-old pitcher served a 10-game suspension last month after getting ejected from a game in Toronto for using an illegal sticky substance on the mound. His only previous complete game as a professional came with Double-A Trenton in April 2017.
Winless in six previous outings against Oakland, Germán threw 72 of 99 pitches for strikes. He mixed 51 curveballs and 30 fastballs that averaged 92.5 mph with 17 changeups and one sinker.
He went to three balls on a batter just twice, falling behind Ryan Noda 3-1 in the fourth and Jonah Bride by the same count in the eighth. Noda struck out on consecutive curveballs, and Germán followed with three straight curves to Bride: one for a called strike, the next resulting in a foul ball and the third in a groundout.
“It was just so fun to watch him do that and go to work. We’ve seen him flirt with outings like that over time,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said, thinking to when Boston’s Alex Verdugo broke up Germán’s no-hit bid in the eighth in July 2021.
“When he gets rolling like that he’s just so fun to watch at his craft because he’s so good at commanding all of his pitches. His curveball was great tonight, but because his changeup and his fastball were good, too, it made that curveball even more special.”
Seth Brown came the closest to reaching base for the A’s, hitting a sharp grounder in the fifth inning to first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who made a diving stop and tossed to Germán for the out.
With the crowd of 12,479 on its feet for the ninth, Germán quickly finished what he started. He got Aledmys Díaz to ground out before Shea Langeliers flied out to short center field. When Esteury Ruiz grounded out to third baseman Josh Donaldson to end it, New York's dugout and bullpen emptied as Germán’s teammates raced out to the mound to celebrate.
“That last inning was very different — very different. I felt an amount of pressure that I’ve never felt before,” Germán said. “I’m trying to visualize what I want to execute there. At the same time, I don’t want to miss. So much pressure, but yet so rewarding.
“The key there was not to overthrow,” he added.
A’s leadoff hitter Tony Kemp said Germán’s curveball set up everything else.
“He threw that curveball in any count that he wanted to,” Kemp said. “It was spinning differently and moving differently. He put his fastball where he wanted to. Changeup as well. He just kind of mixed them. Got a couple of good swings off him, but no results.”
Six days after allowing a career-high 10 runs (eight earned) and four homers over 3 1/3 innings in a loss to the Mariners at home, Germán got his 500th career strikeout and was the definition of perfection.
“This has not been an easy week or time for him,” Boone said. “For him to go out there and paint that masterpiece was really just a lot of fun just to be able to watch.”
It was the 13th no-hitter in Yankees history, including Larsen’s perfect game in the World Series. Corey Kluber pitched their previous no-hitter against the Texas Rangers on May 19, 2021.
Germán, who idolized Hernández growing up, is the rare pitcher who wears zero on the back of his uniform.
Never has that number been more appropriate.
“I’m just happy for Domingo. He’s had a rough last couple starts and he’s kind of been dragging a little bit,” Yankees catcher Kyle Higashioka said. “I kind of always felt like of anyone, he has a really good chance to do something like this and for it all to come together tonight is just amazing.”
It marked quite a personal turnaround for Germán, who went 18-4 in 2019 with the Yankees but was put on administrative leave late that season while Major League Baseball investigated an alleged domestic violence incident involving his girlfriend.
He missed the entire pandemic-shortened 2020 season and playoffs while serving an 81-game suspension, then met face-to-face with Yankees teammates and made a public apology at spring training when he returned to the club in February 2021.
Giancarlo Stanton homered for the first time in more than two weeks and drove in three runs, and Donaldson added three RBIs against his former team to help the Yankees to their 15th win in 21 games against the A’s since Aug. 31, 2019.
Stanton crushed a 422-foot homer on a first-pitch fastball from former Yankees pitcher JP Sears (1-6) in the fourth. The slumping slugger added a two-run single off Shintaro Fujinami in the fifth when the Yankees scored six runs and benefited from two errors by the A’s.
Higashioka had an RBI double, then scored when Anthony Volpe reached on an infield single and Sears flipped the ball wildly into foul territory. Volpe took second on the error, stole third and then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s single.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who walked leading off the inning and scored, capped the uprising with a two-out RBI single.
But the night belonged to Germán, who was loudly cheered as the game unfolded. Many fans in Oakland were decked out in Yankees colors or jerseys.
“Unfortunately, two days ago an uncle of mine passed away and I cried a lot yesterday in the clubhouse. So I had him with me throughout the whole game. I was thinking about him,” Germán said. “This game is a tribute to him. He would have been so happy. He was always someone that really brought a joy to our family and it happened for him to watch it this way, from up there.”
STATS AND STUFF
The Yankees became the first franchise with four perfect games (the Chicago White Sox have three). ... The Coliseum joined Yankee Stadium as the only ballparks to be the site of three perfect games. ... Oakland had played 5,063 games since the last time the team was no-hit, by four Baltimore pitchers in July 1991. Now, the Washington Nationals franchise holds the longest active streak in the majors, going 3,812 games (including playoffs) since Cone’s perfect game against the Montreal Expos at Yankee Stadium in July 1999.
Yankees RHP Jhony Brito, the losing pitcher Tuesday, was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. RHP Ian Hamilton was activated off the injured list after missing 35 games with a right groin strain.
Yankees RHP Clarke Schmidt (2-6, 4.32 ERA) starts Thursday afternoon and has pitched to a 2.19 ERA over his past seven outings dating to May 19. A’s manager Mark Kotsay said LHP Hogan Harris (2-1, 4.91) would either start or come in following an opener.