Mark Buehrle pitched the second no-hitter of his career, and the first perfect game Major League Baseball has seen since Randy Johnson was perfect in 2004.
July 23, 2009, will always be remembered by not only White Sox fans, but by all baseball fans. A perfect game is the rarest feat accomplished by Major League pitchers. In the history of the game of professional baseball in America, only 18 perfect games have been thrown, and the White Sox now own two of those 18.
April 30, 1922, Charlie Robertson hurled a perfect game against the Detroit Tigers for the White Sox in only his fourth career start. Eighty-seven years later, the White Sox are celebrating the same historic milestone.
Although I feel there is more to this perfect game than meets the eye. For example, the White Sox did not exactly have their “A Team” on the field when they faced the defending A.L. champion Tampa Bay Rays, who were third in the big leagues in runs scored.
Let’s start with first base. Paul Konerko was moved to the designated hitter role to rest an aging Jim Thome. That left the inexperienced Josh Fields covering first base.
Moving to second base, Jayson Nix, the utility player, was in the lineup to rest Chris Getz. At shortstop, Alexei Ramirez took over as usual, and Gordon Beckham, whose natural position is shortstop and who has only been with the White Sox for just a little more than a month-and-a-half, played third base.
That is a pretty scary infield to defend a perfect game.
Looking at the outfield, the Sox had Carlos Quentin, who is recovering from a foot injury, Scott Podsednik, who has only been with the team for a few months, and Jermaine Dye, who is not quite what he used to be in right field.
This lineup doesn’t quite scream “perfect game.”
But it gets even better.
Behind the plate, the White Sox started newly-acquired backup catch Ramon Castro. This was the first time Buehrle had ever pitched to Castro in a game. Buehrle is known to let the catcher call the game, and is also known to pitch to contact, meaning he lets the batter put the ball in play while leaning on support from his defense. And his defense came through.
Buehrle was perfect. His defense was perfect.
Not to mention the fact the win against the Rays locked the White Sox in a tie for first place with the Detroit Tigers. It was a very special day, indeed.
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from the July 29-August 4, 2009, issue