Unlikely Road to Perfection
By Ryan Warren aka Sportsfanatic10
Going into the 2012 season most Chicago White Sox fans have little hope of a World Series victory. Detroit has Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and Justin Verlander. Minnesota has Joe Mauer, Cleveland has Asdrubal Cabrera and Ubaldo Jimenez and Kansas City has the next great thing Eric Hosmer. That just leaves Chicago, and well they have Philip Humber. Philip Humber was a highly touted prospect born and raised in Texas. Where he attended Carthage High School and he was drafted in the 2001 MLB draft in the 29th round by the New York Yankees (who at this point in his career seems fitting for the Yankees). He respectfully declined and attended The University of Rice where he won the Freshman player of the year award, honored in his sophomore year with a Philip Humber day in his hometown of Carthage, Texas, and setting the record for Rice in his Junior year for most strikeouts in a game with 17 against the Hawaii Warriors.
Humber was magnificent for Rice in his 3 college seasons which landed him in the first round for the 2004 MLB Draft with his two starting pitcher teammates. They were all drafted in the first 8 picks of the first round which is the first time it was ever been done. He was drafted by the New York Mets in front of two greats of today Jered Weaver and Stephen Drew and one pick behind 2011 AL MVP Justin Verlander who has also thrown a no-hitter. He signed a 3.7 million dollar signing bonus and was sent to Class–A ball where Humber struggled posting a 2-6 record with a 4.99 ERA. He was then promoted to double A where in his first start he gave up 3 earned runs in four innings, and he left the game early with elbow pain. Humber needed Tommy John surgery and most minor leaguers who go through this never are the same, neither was Humber. After 1 year and 12 days rehabbing his elbow he came back and was dominant in double-A.
On September 26th 2007, Humber made his first major league start for the Mets giving up 5 earned runs in 4 innings of work. Humber was traded for the Minnesota Twins Ace Johan Santanaon on February 2nd of the following year. He played in triple-A where he posted a 5.28 ERA in 21 games. Humber was called up by the twins pitching in 5 games for the them all in relief. The following year he made the opening day roster, where he struggled yet again. He later signed a triple –A contract for the Kansas City Royals where he was struck in the head by a line drive on the mound, where he layed face down on the mound, he was later rushed to the hospital. He was then waived by the Royals and the Oakland Athletics claimed him and then waived again to the Chicago White Sox. He was given the opportunity to pitch after Jake Peavey sustained an injury and Humber went 9-9 with a 3.75 ERA as a starter in 2011.
The following year there was no looking back for Humber! Pitching well in his first start against the Orioles, he continued his streak against the Seattle Mariners where for once Humber was given a reason to smile. He was in route to perfection throwing only 96 pitches in 9 innings on his way to a perfect game. Something only 20 pitchers have done in baseball history. His 9th inning was no easy inning, of course starting off to Michael Saunders on three straight balls worked his way back to strike him out on three straight strikes. The next batter John Jaso popped up to shallow right and then Brendan Ryan worked the count full…. On a 3-2 count Humber threw him a slider outside the zone, but Ryan checked his swing in which a replay shows was definitely not a swing argued with the umpire. At the same time the ball rolled away from veteran catcher A.J Pierzynski who said this after the game”I was more nervous than I was in the World Series”. “There was no build up for this; it just happened. And you want it so bad for the guy on the mound and you want him to have that achievement forever and you want to have him remembered forever. It’s a special thing that Phil did.” Pierzynski easily threw Ryan out at first and Humber was in shock he fell to his knees yelling just like he did when he was hit in the face with a line drive, except this time it was the joy and excitement of throwing a perfect game. He also had very little experience at it too. Only winning 11 games (2nd) at the time with only 29 starts (3rd), Humber is in an exclusive list of 21 guys. Unlike those from whom you would expect it more out, guys who started the same day such as Verlander , Halladay, Kershaw, Weaver, and Strasburg, that didn’t matter because it was Philip Humber day.
sources for stats/info
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