Already great, Hernandez joins pitching elite

By TIM BOOTH
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Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez reacts after throwing a perfect game to end the ninth inning of baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012, in Seattle. The Mariners won 1-0. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

SEATTLE (AP) — Gloves went flying into the air. Players screamed and celebrated, bouncing around the grass with unabashed joy.

Even in Jackson, Tenn., Felix Hernandez's perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday was reason for celebration.

Sure there was a bit more of a personal connection for the Jackson Generals than just being the Double-A affiliate of the Mariners. Hernandez's older brother, Moises, is a pitcher for the Generals.

But the reaction nearly 2,500 miles away from Safeco Field speaks to Hernandez's importance to the Mariners organization.

Hernandez has a Cy Young Award. He's now joined the pitching elite with just the 23rd perfect game in baseball history.

What's next? Trying to make the Mariners relevant again for more than just the efforts of their pitching ace.