Mark Buehrle has had a tremendous career, one that includes a no-hitter and a World Series ring. But what Buehrle accomplished last week against the Tampa Bay Rays has only been done by 19 major league pitchers: a perfect game.
A perfect game is defined as 27 consecutive batters retired and no one ever reaching first base off of a hit, walk, or error. The last player before Buehrle to throw this historic game was Randy Johnson, against the Atlanta Braves in 2004.
But pitching a perfect game requires a lot of talent and a lot of luck. Just look at Buehrle’s perfect performance.
He only struck out six, which means that 21 players put the ball in play. Buehrle needed a top-notch defense to keep anyone from getting on base safely. And he has a lot of players to thank for the great defensive performance, especially centerfielder Dewayne Wise. Wise made a home run-robbing grab to keep Buehrle’s perfect game alive.
Entering the ninth inning, Wise had just come in as a defensive replacement. Tampa bay’s Gabe Kapler lined a Buehrle pitch deep to the left centerfield wall. Wise sprinted after the ball and leaped, reaching above the wall to make the grab. Wise hit the wall so hard that he bobbled the ball, but then caught it with his bare hand.
The perfect game has also been pitched in incredible situations. In 1956, Yankees righty Don Larsen threw a perfect game in Game 5 of the World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The question in Chicago is whether Buehrle deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. I think that his perfect game has sealed his plaque in Cooperstown. But whether or not Buehrle makes it to Cooperstown, he will always be remembered for the one day when he was perfect.
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