Can Humber stay perfect vs. Sox?

April, 26, 2012
4/26/12
11:34
AM ET
Philip Humber will face the Boston Red Sox on Thursday in his first start since tossing the 21st perfect game in MLB history.

Humber, Buehrle... and Bobby Jenks?
Including his start prior to the perfect game, Humber has actually retired 29 straight batters. The first Red Sox player to get a crack at him will be Mike Aviles, who is the only player on the team with a home run against Humber.

The MLB record for consecutive batters retired is 45, set by Mark Buehrle in 2009. He retired the first 17 batters he faced following his perfect game (and had retired his final batter in the start before the perfect game).

Buehrle broke the record of 41 consecutive batters initially set by Jim Barr in 1972. Barr’s record was tied in 2007 by none other than Bobby Jenks, then a teammate of Buehrle and now on the disabled list for the Red Sox.

Whereas he once retired 41 in a row, Jenks has set down at total of only 47 batters since joining the Red Sox prior to 2011.

Red Sox Following Perfection
The last time the Red Sox faced a pitcher coming off a perfect game? May 23, 1998 vs. David Wells.

Wells had thrown his perfect game against the Twins a week before, striking out 11 in the process.

The Red Sox got on base quickly. No. 2 hitter Darren Bragg singled to left in the first inning. Wells’ final line for the game: 7 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, BB, 5 K. The Yankees won 12-3, as Derek Lowe lasted just 1 1/3 innings for Boston. Of the past five AL perfect-game pitchers, Wells is the only one to win his next start.

What To Watch For: The Slider
Fourteen of Humber’s 27 outs against Seattle came on at-bats ending in his slider. That includes all six of the right-handed batters he retired.

He leaned on the slider more as the game went on. Humber threw his slider 14 percent of the time in his first run through the order, then 46 percent of the time the next two times through the order.

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The scary part? It’s a relatively new pitch for him. White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper convinced Humber to develop it after he was claimed off waivers in January 2011.

In all, opponents are 1-for-21 against his slider this season, missing on 48 percent of swings.

Humber and the 2004 Draft
Humber was selected third overall in the 2004 draft by the Mets, right after Justin Verlander. That means two of the top three picks in that draft have thrown a no-hitter. The first pick that year was Matt Bush, who still hasn’t played in the majors. Bush, now in the Rays organization, is currently in jail facing seven charges related to an alleged hit-and-run incident.

Despite being the third pick, Humber has the 29th most wins among pitchers selected in 2004, right behind Bill Bray.

The Red Sox didn’t have a first-round pick in 2004, as it went to the A’s as compensation for Keith Foulke. Boston’s first pick that year was Dustin Pedroia (65th overall).

Quick Hits
* There have been 40 no-hitters in the MLB since the last time the Red Sox were held hitless. Chris Bosio pulled it off back in 1993.

* Humber didn’t get his first win until his fifth season in the majors. The only pitcher in Red Sox history to remain winless in his first four seasons (all with Boston) was Wilbur Wood.

Jeremy Lundblad is a senior researcher with ESPN Stats & Information. He provides statistical analysis for ESPNBoston.com.

Jeremy Lundblad

ESPN Stats and Information

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