During bids for no-hitters and perfect games, conventional baseball superstition demands that the pitcher throwing the gem not be disturbed. Teammates and coaches shy away.
But after Domingo Germán completed a seventh perfect inning Wednesday at Oakland Coliseum, the Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake sat beside him and chatted.
The break in tradition did not matter. Germán set down the next six hitters in the Athletics’ order to throw the 24th perfect game in Major League Baseball history in an 11-0 win.
“So exciting,” Germán said in Spanish through an interpreter during an on-field interview with the YES Network after the game. “When you think about something very unique in baseball. Not many people have an opportunity to pitch a perfect game and accomplish something like this.”
After a relative spate of them — two in 2010 and three in 2012 — nearly 11 years had passed since the Seattle Mariners star Félix Hernández tossed the major leagues’ most recent perfect game.
Germán, who came into the game with a 5.10 E.R.A. this season, remained spotless even after long delays in the dugout as his team scored six runs in the top of the fifth inning; when Oakland’s pitcher left with an injury in the seventh; and when the Yankees tacked on more runs in the ninth. And he maintained his rhythm with two outs in the bottom of the eighth when a ball escaped the Oakland bullpen and briefly paused his matchup with Jonah Bride.
The modest crowd of 12,479 in Oakland, Calif., rose to its feet at Germán came out to start the ninth inning and chanted “Let’s Go, Yankees” as he faced the first batter of the inning.
Germán completed the perfect game by inducing a groundout from Esteury Ruiz, the speedy Oakland outfielder, to join a club with Hernández, a player he called his childhood “idol.”
“That last inning was very different — very different,” Germán said. “I felt an amount of pressure that I’ve never felt before. I’m trying to visualize what I want to execute there. At the same time, I don’t want to miss.”
He continued: “So much pressure but yet so rewarding.”
Germán dedicated the performance to an uncle of his who died two days ago who was “always someone that really brought a lot of joy to our family.”
“I cried a lot yesterday,” he said. “I had him with me throughout the game.”
Afterward, teammates doused Germán with a cooler during his television interview, and he posed for photos with the game ball and his catcher, Kyle Higashioka, and then the rest of his teammates.
It was the fourth perfect game in Yankees history, after Don Larsen’s in the 1956 World Series, David Wells’s in 1998 and David Cone’s in 1999. It was also the second Yankee no-hitter in the past three seasons, following a 2021 performance by Corey Kluber against the Texas Rangers. Higashioka was behind the plate for both games.
Germán entered play throwing his curveball about 40 percent of the time this season, even more than his fastball, and Higashioka said it was a key pitch Wednesday as Germán used it to record 20 of his 27 outs.
“He was fantastic tonight and he deserves all the credit,” Higashioka said.
The masterpiece of a game was the highest point, by far, in an uneven season for Germán. He had been suspended for 10 games in mid-May for violating league rules against the use of foreign substances on the ball. He has put together strong outings, like when he allowed only one run over 8 ⅓ innings against Cleveland last month. But his past two starts were a far cry from that showing, yielding 15 earned runs over 5 ⅓ innings against Boston and Seattle.
The uneven season is nothing new for Germán. Throughout his six-plus years in the majors he has had periods of success and failure, has dealt with multiple injuries and served an 81-game suspension that encompassed part of the 2019 season and all of 2020 for violations of M.L.B.’s domestic violence policy.
But for one night in Oakland, he kept everything together. He said that he had thought of perfection throughout Wednesday’s game. And, in the end, no one could touch him.