Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mark Buehrle Pitches Perfect Game

I turned on my television and switched to ESPN. The DirecTV on-screen guide said NFL Live was on, so I was expecting Brett Favre chatter.

Instead, I saw history of a different (and much more enjoyable) kind.

White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle was trying to finish off a perfect game in Chicago against the Tampa Bay Rays. Buehrle's no slouch, having compiled an impressive resume over his time in Chicago, and having already thrown one no-hitter in his career.

Tampa's lineup isn't exactly Murderer's Row, but they've got some guys who can hit, so this was not any kind of fluke. Buehrle was obviously throwing the hell out of the ball.

The first batter, Gabe Kapler, took Buehrle deep to left-center, and I thought it was gone. It would have been, were it not for center fielder Dewayne Wise, who made an incredible catch. I know Sox television broadcaster Ken Harrelson is known for his over-the-top statements, but he said it was the greatest catch he'd ever seen in 50 years of baseball, especially given the circumstances of trying to preserve a perfect game.

I couldn't agree more with Hawk, though there's a catch he probably didn't see in person that comes very close.

In 1987, the Brewers' only no-hitter in franchise history (pitched by Juan Nieves) was capped by an amazing catch in center field by Robin Yount, who dove to nab a sinking line drive hit by Eddie Murray.

The kicker is that it was only Yount's second year as a full-time center fielder. He was a shortstop when he joined the organization in 1978, and stayed that way through the 1984 season.

The story today, however, is Mark Buehrle. He only struck out six, but only eight of the other 21 outs were recorded on balls hit in the air in fair territory. Simply an incredible performance by a great left-handed pitcher.

It's the 16th perfect game in "modern" baseball history, and the first since Randy Johnson threw one for Arizona in Atlanta back in 2004.

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