By Paul M. Banks
Mark Buerhle is not done yet. Following a perfect game last Thursday afternoon over the Tampa Bay Rays, supplementing his no-hitter he threw two years ago against Texas no less, Buerhle pitched a “perfect game” for the first 5 2/3 innings of his next start. In doing so, he broke a Major League Baseball record by retiring 45 straight batters.
The old record of 41 consecutive batters retired was held by two men. One is a teammate: currently embattled closer Bobby Jenks in 2007; the second was Jim Parr of the 1972 San Francisco Giants. When Jenks tied the record in ’07, it was one of the most under-publicized records in baseball history. Only the seamheads and most die hard of Sox die-hards celebrated it. This was partially due to the fact that the Sox were practically eliminated from playoff contention by Memorial Day that season. This time, however the lights will shine brighter. Buerhle’s feat comes the night after he appeared on David Letterman to deliver a Top Ten list in his honor (in case you missed it, the vid is below).
This accomplishment comes in the thick of a pennant race, at the stadium of the Sox most hated rival, the Minnesota Twins, who are right there with them in the standings. Despite the Twins being to the Sox what the Giants are to the Dodgers, or what the Yankees are to the Red Sox, the Twins fans gave Buerhle a standing ovation twice: when he broke the record and also when upon exiting the game. Sure, the wheels came off after Buerhle’s re-Mark-able streak ended, as the Twins took the lead the next inning. And then the Sox bullpen pitched like a bunch of bushers making things even worse. However, the Twins fans appreciating Buerhle’s record as much as us Sox fans do was 1.) very classy 2.) shows they like baseball in general as much as they like their team.