It turns out New York Yankees starter Domingo German might have missed his chance to pitch a perfect game at the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday night if not for bullpen catcher Rainiero Coa.
As mentioned by Joseph Staszewski of the New York Post and Max Goodman of NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, German revealed shortly after he made history on Wednesday that he was mourning the death of an uncle who passed away earlier in the week. Coa, who first met German after the 30-year-old joined the Yankees via a trade from the Miami Marlins in 2014, is close with the right-hander and offered emotional support that helped keep German off the bereavement list ahead of Wednesday's outing.
"I had a short talk to him about it," Coa told Goodman. "Him deciding to stay here shows that he’s growing up mentally because that uncle was like a dad for him."
Staszewski pointed out that German admitted during his post-game interview on Wednesday he "cried a lot yesterday in the clubhouse" and was thinking about his uncle "throughout the whole game." Those watching either at the Oakland Coliseum or via television wouldn't have known German was hurting as he recorded nine strikeouts over nine innings en route to completing the 24th perfect game in MLB history.
German needed Coa both before and during Wednesday's contest. As the Yankees scored six runs in the top of the fifth inning, German wisely elected to stay loose with some assistance from the bullpen catcher.
"That accomplishment by him is mine as well," Coa added about German's perfect game. "This is my first year as a bullpen catcher. I’ve been working really closely with him since spring training. Plus, I know him since many years ago. I feel like that’s mine, too, you know? I helped him get to that accomplishment. It’s very exciting."