Seventeen up, 17 down against the Twins.
Factoring in his perfect game thrown last Thursday at home against the Rays, Buehrle set a Major League record with 45 consecutive batters retired. It's a streak that began on July 18 on a Nick Markakis flyout, officially became Buehrle's alone on Joe Crede's groundout to shortstop Alexei Ramirez for the second out in the fifth on a low throw adeptly scooped by first baseman Paul Konerko and ended with a walk issued to Alexi Casilla in the sixth.
From that moment on, when Casilla turned an 0-2 count into a free pass on a 3-2 changeup that ranged a bit low, it was horrifying, painful business as usual for the White Sox at the Metrodome.
Minnesota rallied for one in the sixth to tie the game and scored four in the seventh, knocking Buehrle from the mound and claiming a 5-3, come-from-behind victory. It was the White Sox 13th loss in 15 games at the Dome and 16th setback in 20 games, allowing the Twins to forge a tie for second place in the American League Central.
Yet, with Detroit's second straight loss in Texas, the White Sox (51-50) and their 1-5 record on this seven-game road swing through the American League Central frontrunners stayed just two games removed from the top.
"We've just [been] lucky all year long," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "When we play bad, the other top teams in the division play worse."
Jermaine Dye had put the White Sox ahead in the sixth with a two-out, solo shot off of Minnesota starter Scott Baker, Dye's 23rd home run of the season. That one run seemed like more than enough with the easy manner in which Buehrle (11-4) was dismantling the Twins (51-50), needing only two slick plays in the field from third baseman Gordon Beckham leading off the second against Michael Cuddyer and from second baseman Chris Getz with one out in the sixth against Nick Punto to stay perfect. It's the deepest any starter has stayed perfect on the heels of a perfect game.
Denard Span broke up the bid for a second straight no-hitter with a single to center after Casilla's walk. Joe Mauer's double down the left-field line, just out of the reach of Scott Podsednik, scored Casilla to even the score at 1.
That little rally was just a harbinger of bad things to come. The Twins' four-run uprising in the seventh started when Buehrle hit Cuddyer with a pitch, and that miscue was followed by consecutive singles from Crede and Brendan Harris. Crede hit a ground ball to right through a vacated spot at second, when Getz broke toward the base, despite no play being on for the Twins.
|By retiring Joe Crede on a groundout in the fifth inning, White Sox southpaw Mark Buehrle set the Major League mark for most consecutive players retired at 42, breaking the mark held by teammate Bobby Jenks and Jim Barr.|
|Mark Buehrle||White Sox||45||July 18-28, 2009|
|Bobby Jenks||White Sox||41||July 17-Aug. 20, 2007|
|Jim Barr||Giants||41||Aug. 23-29, 1972|
|Tom Browning||Reds||40||Sept. 16-21, 1988|
|Randy Johnson||D-backs||39||May 13-23, 2004|
|David Wells||Yankees||38||May 12-23, 1998|
|Harvey Haddix||Pirates||38||May 21-26, 1959|
A sacrifice bunt by Carlos Gomez and Nick Punto's bloop single to right brought in two runs and brought Buehrle's night to an end at 6 1/3 innings. After the loss, it was darn near impossible for Buehrle to revel in his latest record due to the manner in which he dropped the game.
"Right now, it means nothing," said Buehrle, who struck out three and walked one, throwing 65 of his 97 pitches for strikes. "It's probably one of the most fired up I've been after a game. I'll get in too much trouble, but I'm not a big fan of guys getting base hits when they hit it hard, and I'm not a big fan of broken bat bloop singles."
Both Buehrle and Guillen chalked up the Twins success on Tuesday to the typical Dome-field advantage over the White Sox.
"Any time here, you know it's going to happen," Buehrle said. "We could be up 10-0 in the ninth inning and you know something is going to happen, somehow they are going to rally."
"Typical Minnesota Twins baseball, if you can call it that way," Guillen said. "That's the type of team that puts the ball in play, and makes you make a lot of mistakes."
Gordon Beckham's two-run single in the ninth forced the Twins to use Joe Nathan for the final out. But for his second straight start, this was really a story about Buehrle's unparalleled excellence.
As he exited in the seventh, the crowd of 34,642 rose and gave Buehrle a rousing standing ovation. Buehrle tipped his cap. Perfection was not in the cards on this night, and once again at the Metrodome, neither was a victory for the White Sox.
"I wasn't ready to see him make more history, especially on our field," Span said. "I just wasn't seeing that tonight. I give him a lot of credit. He definitely earned a lot of points in my book the way he came out and showed a lot of courage and just a lot of heart."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.