Felix Hernandez Perfect Through 7 Innings

Aug 15, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez (34) delivers to the plate against the Tampa Bay Rays during the second inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE

Felix Hernandez is perfect through seven innings, setting down the first 21 Rays batters while pitching for the Seattle Mariners.

Felix Hernandez is chasing a perfect game in Seattle for the Mariners. Through six innings, he shut down the Rays order twice in a row, striking out seven while throwing only 69 pitches. The seventh inning was filled with more excellence.

Sam Fuld started the seventh inning by grounding out to second baseman Dustin Ackley, who had a routine throw to first for out number one. B.J. Upton then chopped one to shortstop that was handled by Brendan Ryan and thrown to Justin Smoak. Then, after getting worked to a full count, Hernandez forced a groundout from Matt Joyce to end the top of the seventh. Hernandez needed 16 pitches to get through the seventh inning and is now sitting on 85 pitches overall.

One thing worth noting is the ejection of Rays manager Joe Maddon, who might have been trying to break up Hernandez's rhythm when he started a verbal altercation with the umpires.

Hernandez has never had a no-hitter, much less a perfect game. However, Hernandez has had a couple of one-hit games and came close to a no-hitter in 2010 against the Texas Rangers. But that was broken up by a Nelson Cruz home run.

Hernandez is now six outs away from an even greater accomplishment. As Seattle broadcaster Dave Sims yelled at the bottom of the 7th: "We're getting into nitty gritty time, folks."

For more on the Seattle Mariners, join the discussion over at Lookout Landing.

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