Hertzler perfect for Canadians

Retires all 15 batters in rain-shortened gem against Chiefs

(Paul Yates)

By Daren Smith / MLB.com | July 18, 2007 3:56 PM

Brad Hertzler was ready to go out and pitch the sixth inning if the weather cleared at Nat Bailey Stadium. Instead, he "settled" for perfection.

Making just the third start of his professional career, Hertzler retired all 15 batters he faced in a rain-shortened perfect game Wednesday as the Vancouver Canadians blanked the Spokane Indians, 1-0.

"I was in pretty much of a groove, just going out there and pounding the [strike] zone," the 15th-round draft pick said. "I'd go back out there in a heartbeat."

Hertzler said he expected to return to the mound if the rain delay was brief. Instead, umpires waited some 30 minutes before calling the game, making his gem the third perfect game in the Minor Leagues this season and second in four days.

Manny Parra of the Triple-A Nashville Sounds pitched one against the Memphis Redbirds on June 25 and Guillermo Moscoso of the short-season Oneonta Tigers set down all 27 batters against the Batavia Muckdogs on Sunday.

"This is pretty good. This probably tops it all," said Hertzler, a Rhode Island native who struck out 19 in a seven-inning perfect game as a 16-year-old in the RBI League. "I'm just trying to prove to everybody that I can compete."

The Indians (11-18) probably don't need to be convinced. Using his fastball almost exclusively, Hertzler allowed only five balls out of the infield and fanned three.

"I think I was at 70 pitches, and I threw 65 fastballs," he said. "I threw two curves, two cutters and a changeup. [The fastball] was moving in and out pretty well.

"I didn't get ahead of that many batters, but I took a deep breath and pumped it inside. My catcher [Julio Rivera] called a great game."

Hertzler (1-1) also credited first baseman Daniel Hamblin for handling a couple of tough ground balls. Once the game reached the fifth inning, his teammates told him they'd do whatever they could to protect the perfect game. In the case of center fielder Corey Brown, that meant moving in a few steps so he was in position to snare Timothy Rodriguez's shallow fly ball for the final out in the fifth.

"You always have that awareness [of a perfect game], but you try not to think about it or jinx yourself," Hertzler said. "I had the same routine every inning."

Rain was a presence throughout the afternoon, delaying the start of the game for more than an hour and making conditions less than ideal.

"Sometimes the ball would slip out," Hertzler said. "My shoes felt 10 or 15 pounds each. If I went out for another two innings, I was going to change my spikes.

"The weather's uncontrollable, so I can't do anything about it. You just get mentally and physically prepared -- and throw strikes."

Selected by the Oakland Athletics in last month's First-Year Player Draft, Hertzler is the younger brother of Barry Hertzler, a relief pitcher in the Boston Red Sox organization. In four games with the Canadians, Brad Hertzler has given up two earned runs on nine hits over 13 2/3 innings with a walk and 13 strikeouts.

Vancouver (15-14) scored the game's lone run in the third. Hamblin hit a leadoff double and, after a pair of walks loaded the bases, came home on a fielder's choice by Justin Frash.

Starter Ryan Tatusko (1-2) took the loss after allowing one run on four hits over three innings with four walks and two strikeouts.

Daren Smith is a staff writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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