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Buehrle's feats slowly starting to sink in

Buehrle's feats slowly starting to sink in

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Tuesday's record-setting performance by Mark Buehrle brought the left-hander to tears a few hours after Minnesota rallied for a 5-3 victory at the Metrodome.

They weren't tears of anger from losing a second straight to the Twins, or even tears of joy from the 45 straight hitters Buehrle had retired to set the new Major League record. Instead, they were tears caused by extreme laughter, courtesy of the White Sox curiously entertaining third-base coach Jeff Cox.

"Coxsie said it best yesterday," said the media-worn Buehrle with a smile. "Right here [in the White Sox clubhouse], as everyone was kind of leaving, he was throwing some cuss words in there like, 'Mark [blanking] Buehrle?' Are you kidding me? This game has been around 120 years and Sandy Koufax, Randy Johnson, Cy Young and Bert Blyleven, all the guys names, and Mark Buehrle, are you kidding?'

"That's all he kept saying. I had tears in my eyes, I was laughing so hard. You might need to ask him to go over it. It was one of Coxsie's little rants.

"But that just kind of showed how long the game has been around and I set a record and I ain't sharing it with anyone else," Buehrle said. "It's just me. For me to have something over all the great pitchers in this game, it kind of sinks in a little more."

Buehrle's amazing streak of perfection began on July 18 at home against the Orioles, when he retired Nick Markakis as the last batter he faced. Buehrle then threw his historic perfect game against the Rays on July 23 and set down the first 17 Twins he faced on Tuesday.

Alexi Casilla drew a two-out walk in the sixth, after being down in the count, 0-2, and Denard Span followed with a single to break up the no-hitter. Buehrle's 45 in a row broke the mark of 41 held previously by San Francisco's Jim Barr and White Sox closer Bobby Jenks.

Jenks stands as the only pure reliever among this elite list, having hit his mark in an otherwise dismal 2007 season for the White Sox. After Tuesday's game, Jenks was asked if it was tougher to reach this lofty level as a reliever or a starter and he quickly gave his answer with a big, mischievous smile.

"Reliever, without a doubt. Come on," Jenks said.

This same argument came up in 2007, according to Buehrle, when his first no-hitter against Texas was put up against Jenks' streak. According to Buehrle, retiring 41 or 45 in a row in any manner needs to be appreciated more than ranked.

"It's a pretty impossible thing to do anyways," Buehrle said. "For me, I don't give a [darn] how you get out 41 or 45 guys, over a month or two, or two starts. It's still kind of tough to make that happen."

The Sports Illustrated cover boy for this week isn't done with the individual recognition, which he doesn't exactly love. The White Sox announced on Wednesday that next week's three home games against the Angels will be dubbed the "Buehrle Appreciate Series" and feature $9 Upper Reserved seats [originally $23] for the nine perfect innings for all three games, and Lower Reserved and Bleacher seats will be available for $27 for the 27 batters he retired against Tampa Bay [originally $38 and $37, respectively].

Prior to this Tuesday's game, a special ceremony will take place where Buehrle joked that he might throw out the first pitch or maybe even catch it. At that point, Buehrle's tremendous accomplishment might have sunk in even more -- without the comical help of Cox.

"You never thought you would have Mark Buehrle days in different cities and hometowns," said Buehrle, who got his own day in St. Charles, Mo., back in 2005 after the World Series. "I'm more shocked than anything."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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