|White Sox 6, Rangers 0|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 18 April 2007 22:18|
No surprise that Buehrle was joking around Wednesday night while pitching a game he'll always remember - a no-hitter against the Texas Rangers that missed being perfect by a fifth-inning walk to Sammy Sosa.
Bucking baseball tradition, Buehrle didn't avoid his teammates and they couldn't stay away from him, either. That's because he made sure to tell them what was happening.
``You know I got a no-hitter going,'' Buehrle told a couple of White Sox's teammates in the dugout around the fifth inning.
He relaxed between innings by retiring to the clubhouse, watching TV and chatting with catcher A.J. Pierzynski.
But with three outs to go Wednesday night and the crowd in an uproar, Buehrle's cool was hard to maintain.
``You don't want to make that one mistake and give up a hit,'' he said. ``I could feel my knees a little bit, a little shaken, a little extra adrenaline going for the ninth inning.''
Buehrle faced the minimum 27 batters in a 6-0 victory over the Rangers, picking Sosa off first right after walking him.
``I told him I couldn't believe he walked Sammy but he picked him off,'' Pierzynski said. ``Doesn't it count still?''
Buehrle struck out Matt Kata and Nelson Cruz in the ninth before Gerald Laird hit a slow grounder to third base that Joe Crede picked up and threw to first. As Paul Konerko caught the ball, he pumped his fist, setting off a wild celebration.
``Obviously, never in a million years thought I'd be able to have this happen,'' Buehrle said.
Buehrle was mobbed by teammates at the side of the mound. He got a big hug from manager Ozzie Guillen as he came off the field and then a beer shower from teammates.
``I told Mark right after the game I've been nervous, but never like that in the World Series or playoffs or whatever,'' Pierzynski said. ``When he got to the ninth inning and two outs I was a lot more nervous than I was in the World Series. I don't want to say there was more on the line, but for a personal accomplishment that's about as good as it gets.''
On a chilly, 40-degree night, Buehrle threw 105 pitches and struck out eight in a game that took just 2 hours, 3 minutes. His previous low-hit game was a one-hitter against Tampa Bay on Aug. 3, 2001. It was the 16th no-hitter in White Sox history and first since Wilson Alvarez threw one at Baltimore on Aug. 11, 1991.
``I was part of one in high school,'' Buehrle said. ``To get through a big league lineup three times, I never thought it would happen.''
It was the first no-hitter pitched against the Rangers since June 17, 1995, when Toronto's David Cone threw one in a 4-0 win.
Buehrle, who retired 20 of the final 22 batters he faced in his previous start against Oakland, had some stellar defensive plays behind him.
Three of the closest plays came on grounders. Jerry Hairston hit one to Crede in the third inning and was called out at first after a headfirst slide. Replays showed Hairston was out, but he was ejected by first base umpire James Hoye for arguing and had to be restrained by first base coach Gary Pettis when he returned to the field.
``Obviously, I thought I was safe,'' Hairston said. ``But I don't want to take away from Buehrle, the guy just threw a no-hitter.''
Second baseman Tadahito Iguchi made a diving stop of Hank Blalock's grounder in the hole, got up and threw him out to end the fifth. That came one batter after Sosa spoiled the perfect game bid by drawing the walk.
In the seventh, Chicago shortstop Juan Uribe went into the hole to get Ian Kinsler's grounder and got him at first, thanks to a nice scoop by Konerko.
Chicago right fielder Jermaine Dye also made a nice play in the second on Blalock, going back to the fence to catch his long drive.
``Obviously, for a guy like me, I need my defense behind me,'' Buehrle said.
Know for mixing his pitches and speeds rather than his velocity, Buehrle went 12-13 last season. It was his first losing record in six full major league seasons. And after making the All-Star team, he struggled mightily after the break, going just 3-7.
Buehrle is in the final year of his contract. One of the first people to greet him in the clubhouse after the game was general manager Kenny Williams.
As Buehrle pulled on a hat and a warmup for a picture after his news conference, he was still yukking it up.
``It's like signing a contract, isn't it?'' he said.
Jim Thome homered twice - giving him 477 for his career - and Dye hit a two-out grand slam in the fifth off Kevin Millwood (2-2).
Notes: Buehrle is 9-3 in his career against the Rangers. ... It was Dye's sixth career slam. His last one came on July 4, 2005, against Tampa Bay.