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What are the odds? A Yankees pitcher throws a prized rarity: the perfect game

New York Yankees pitcher Domingo Germán, center, poses for a photograph with the team after his perfect game against the Oakland Athletics during a baseball game in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, June 28, 2023.
Godofredo A. Vásquez
/
AP
New York Yankees pitcher Domingo Germán, center, poses for a photograph with the team after his perfect game against the Oakland Athletics during a baseball game in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, June 28, 2023.

What are the odds of pitching a perfect game in Major League Baseball?

Very, very small.

"At the beginning of every major-league game, an average pitcher facing a lineup of average hitters has a .000983 percent chance of pitching a perfect game," according to numbers crunched by smart people in a 2012 SBNATION article.

That's about 1 perfect game for every 34 seasons, according to SBNATION.

So, it was very unlikely that when Domingo Germán, the New York Yankees right-hander, took the mound Wednesday night against the Oakland Athletics, pitching a perfect game would be on his mind.

Yet Germán did – bringing not only his team an 11-0 victory over the A's but also the Yankees' fourth perfect game thrown in team history and the 24th perfect game in all of MLB history. Germán recorded the feat on 99 pitches thrown over nine innings, allowing no hits and no walks.

"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."

Germán is the first pitcher born in the Dominican Republic to pitch a perfect game. And he also became the first player in MLB history to achieve that feat after allowing 10-plus runs in his previous start, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Pitching a perfect game is so prized and yet rare enough that sports websites and blogs have spent untold hours trying to catalogue what feats are rarer in baseball.

The 30-year-old Germán became the oldest player to throw a perfect game since the late Roy Halladay did it at the age of 33 in 2010 with Philadelphia, ESPN Stats and Information said. Germán, a six-year league veteran, joins former Yankees Don Larsen, David Wells and David Cone in pitching perfect games.

Wednesday was the first perfect game since Seattle Mariners' Félix Hernandez accomplished the feat against the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012 – a season that actually saw three perfect games thrown, according to Major League Baseball.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ashley Westerman is a producer who occasionally directs the show. Since joining the staff in June 2015, she has produced a variety of stories including a coal mine closing near her hometown, the 2016 Republican National Convention, and the Rohingya refugee crisis in southern Bangladesh. She is also an occasional reporter for Morning Edition, and NPR.org, where she has contributed reports on both domestic and international news.
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