Cy Young. Sandy Koufax. Randy Johnson.
Charlie Robertson. Len Barker. Philip Humber.
The club of pitchers, from the legendary to the otherwise forgettable, who have achieved a perfect game — that elegant little baseball schematic: 27 up, 27 down — added another member late Wednesday night when the Yankees’ Domingo German retired every hitter he faced in a 11-0 win in Oakland.
“When you think about the history of baseball and how many pitchers have done it, to be part of history now, it’s exciting,” German said through an interpreter.
German wasn’t a perfect candidate.
He was issued an 81-game suspension in 2019 for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic-violence protocol. He was ejected from a game and served a 10-game ban earlier this season after umpires found he was using an illegal sticky substance. In his most recent start, last week against the Mariners, German surrendered 10 runs and four homers, bumping his ERA to 5.30, and he didn’t escape the fourth inning.
The 30-year-old native of the Dominican Republic also was mourning the recent death of his uncle.
Here are some numbers to know about German’s gem:
2️⃣4️⃣ The number of perfect games in MLB history (22 in the modern era) including German’s, which was the first since 2012.
4️⃣ The outsized contingent of Yankees who have a thrown a perfect game, with German joining Don Larsen (in the World Series), David Wells and David Cone. “What I thought is you can’t take your foot off the gas pedal,” Cone said on YES’ TV coverage on Wednesday night. “He did a great job of that. He really did.”
9️⃣9️⃣ Pitches thrown by German, including 72 for strikes. He recorded nine strikeouts.
5️⃣1️⃣ Curveballs among those 99 pitches. German also threw 17 changeups, one sinker and just 30 fastballs.
1️⃣0️⃣6️⃣ The exit velocity, in miles per hour, on the biggest scare of German’s night: Seth Brown’s fifth-inning ground ball down the first-base line that Anthony Rizzo snagged and turned into an out.
As The Post’s Mike Vaccaro wrote on his column on the magnificence and improbability of German’s feat, “Baseball, you know? Only in baseball.”
— Jonathan Lehman
Today’s back page
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🏀 Knicks’ free-agent quest for shooter could force trade to clear rotation spot
🏈 Giants coach OK with Evan Neal seeking help outside organization
MLB certainty looks different.
But is it better?
The league underwent its most dramatic transformation in years this offseason, implementing significant rule changes designed to make the game more exciting and reverse its declining viewership.
A pitch clock, limits on pickoff attempts, bigger bases and a ban on extreme defensive shifts were the biggest alterations ushered in by MLB, spearheaded by consultant Theo Epstein.
Approaching the true 81-game midway point of the season, the results have been mixed.
The larger bases and limits on pickoff attempts offer the least straightforward results.
Stolen bases per game have risen to 0.72 this year from 0.51 last year (all stats through Tuesday) as pitchers have found it more difficult to control the running game and the distance between bases was slightly shortened. The caught-stealing percentage across the league has dropped to 20.7 percent from 24.6 percent — by far the lowest it’s ever been in MLB history.
While the larger bases and pickoff limit have increased the action on the bases, it’s taken much of the anticipation and risk out of stolen base attempts — which is much of what provides fans’ intrigue.
How much more exciting are increased stolen bases if you know the runner is going to be safe?
Prior to the Mets’ 7-2 win over the Brewers on Tuesday evening, manager Buck Showatler pointed to the less-noticed ramifications of those changes for catchers across MLB.
“One of the challenges for catching coaches is to keep the morale of good-throwing catchers, Showalter said. “I was looking at [Martin] Maldonaldo, how good a thrower he is in Houston, and he didn’t throw out anyone in that series [against the Mets]. After a while you go, ‘How do I throw them out?’”
Teams with elite defensive catchers — think: J.T. Realmuto and the Phillies, Martin Maldonado with the Astros, Sean Murphy with the Braves — have seen previous advantages largely negated.
And elite defensive catchers — beyond their pitch-framing abilities — seemingly become less valuable in free agency and on the trading block with the game rigged against them.
Realmuto’s caught-stealing percentage has dropped from an MLB-best 44 percent last year to 23 percent this season. Maldonado’s mark has dropped from 26 percent to 19 percent. Murphy has gone from 31 percent to 27 percent.
It’s been a field day for baserunners and a nightmare for catchers.
“It’s like putting someone in the 100-yard dash and the person you’re racing against gets to start 20 yards back and get full speed when they shoot the gun,” Showalter said. “It’s hard. And guys are rushing to try and get it down there quicker, and their accuracy is suffering. I feel for catchers.
“Today, we were going over some things with Francisco [Alvarez]. Trying to keep his confidence with his throwing.”
The pitch clock has likely been the most successful rule change. Entering Wednesday’s slate, MLB games had averaged 2:40 this season, down 26 minutes from last year’s 3:06 mark. And violations of the pitch clock, though they have remained relatively steady in number, have become unremarkable details of the game after three months.
With the ban on shifts, offensive metrics are up across the board, albeit likely not as much as MLB decision-makers would have hoped.
The league-wide batting average has risen from .243 to .248, on-base percentage from .312 to .319, slugging percentage from .395 to .409 and OPS from .706 to .728. The runs scored per game per team has increased from 4.28 to 4.54. Additionally, batting average in balls in play has risen from .290 to .297.
There is one area where the rule changes have glaringly failed to produce more action, however. Strikeouts per game have increased to 8.59 this season from 8.40 last year.
Yes, MLB’s rule changes have created a new game. But certain players have had to pay the price.
Steve’s straight Mets talk
Steve Cohen answered for the failure of his team with a record-breaking payroll.
The Mets owner spoke with reporters at Citi Field on Wednesday prior to what was, naturally, another loss, 5-2 to the Brewers. On Tuesday, Cohen had announced the impromptu press conference on Twitter, saying “you will get it from me straight.”
Key takeaways from Cohen’s press conference:
• Manager Buck Showalter and general manager Billy Eppler “absolutely” will keep their jobs through at least the rest of the season. Cohen cautioned against the potential consequences of making an “impulsive” decision.
• Cohen placed the majority of the blame on the players, not on Showalter or Eppler. He expressed his confusion over why so many on his roster have regressed this season.
“It’s on the players,” Cohen said. “They are veterans. They have been there before. … We have quality players, for some reason or another they’re not gelling.”
• Cohen said he will be realistic in the approach to the trade deadline. The Mets have a critical decision to make at the deadline: whether to be buyers and pursue a missing piece that can help save the season or to be sellers and cash in on some of their veterans for a long-term benefit.
If the Mets don’t start climbing the standings quickly, it seemingly will be the latter.
“If we don’t get better, we have decisions to make at the trade deadline,” Cohen said.
• Cohen still intends to hire a president of baseball operations to serve above Eppler. At some point.
“If you want to hire great talent, they just don’t show up,” Cohen said. “I’ve been patient because I do not want to make a mistake, and so I can’t tell you if it’s gonna be this year. I don’t know. Is it gonna be next year? I don’t know. But at some point, that’s gonna happen.”
Watch her go
Some of the biggest names in women’s sports are in the headlines this week, ahead of a summer of highly anticipated events across the world.
• The Liberty (10-3) and Aces (13-1) predictably have emerged as the top teams in the WNBA, and they are in first place of their conferences as they play each other for the first time this season Thursday night (10 p.m. ET, YES) in Las Vegas.
Breanna Stewart has emerged as the MVP front-runner and the Liberty’s leader in her first season after signing with the team this past offseason, recording 22.6 points and 10.3 rebounds per game — both career bests.
Not far behind is reigning MVP A’ja Wilson, averaging 19.6 points and 9.4 rebounds for the Aces, who are outscoring opponents by 15.4 points per game.
• Simone Biles is back. On Wednesday, the legendary American gymnast was announced as a participant in the U.S. Classic scheduled to begin on Aug. 4 at the NOW Arena in Illinois. It will mark Biles’ return to the competitive stage after a nearly two-year absence.
A four-time gold medalist, Biles last competed at the Tokyo Olympics, where she won a bronze medal. It was her action off the mat that commanded the most attention, however, as she publicly spoke about her mental health issues and withdrew herself from team finals. Biles said she was struggling with “twisties,” a term gymnasts use when they lose spatial awareness when airborne.
• Brazilian soccer legend Marta was named to her sixth World Cup roster on Wednesday. The tournament begins July 20 with Australia and New Zealand as co-hosts. The 37-year-old forward holds the record for most total goals — men’s or women’s — in World Cup tournaments with 17. She’s also won the FIFA Player of the Year award six times.
A World Cup trophy is the only missing element on her resume. The United States is vying for a historic three-peat.
• Kadie Ledecky keeps doing Katie Ledecky things. The American swimming icon earned her sixth trip to the world championships with a vintage victory in the 800-meter freestyle at the U.S. nationals on Tuesday. She swam the third-fastest time ever — beating the field by more than 13 seconds — and now owns the 30 fastest times in history.
Ledecky will head to Japan for the competition, set to begin July 14, looking to become the first swimmer ever to win the same event at six world championships.
• Top-ranked Iga Swiatek will enter Wimbledon — set to begin July 3 in London — as the No. 1 seed.
Just 22 years old, the Polish phenom has already won four Grand Slam titles, most recently the French Open earlier this month. But the grass courts have provided her the most trouble: Swiatek never has advanced beyond the fourth round at Wimbledon.