Friday, July 24, 2009

Buehrle Perfect Against Rays; Zito on Right Track Again

Players of the Day for Thursday, July 23, 2009 American League Mark Buehrle worked over the Tampa Bay Rays like little leaguers, tossing the first perfect game since Randy Johnson turned the trick in 2004, in Chicago's 5-0 win over the Rays. Buehrle (11-3, 3.28) struck out 6, got 11 batters on ground balls, 8 on flies and 2 on foul pops. In going the distance, he threw 116 pitches, of which 76 went for strikes. First baseman Josh Fields provided almost all of the offense with a second inning grand slam. The fact that Buehrle threw the perfect-o against the Rays is testament to the man's mechanics and work ethic. Tampa Bay has the 4th highest Batting average in the league, third in home runs and RBI, tied for second in on base percentage and third in slugging percentage. Buehrle shut down one of the best-hitting teams in either league. It was the 16th perfect game in major league history, and Buehrle's second no-hitter. He faced the minimum in his 2007, 6-0 win over Texas, walking Sammy Sosa, but then picking him off first base moments later. He joins six other players since 1900 who have tossed a no-hitter and a perfect game, Randy Johnson one of them, and the only active player in that group, The magic was almost ended in the 9th inning when Gabe Kapler launched a drive to deep left-center, but the ball was captured in an exceptional over-the-fence grab by defensive replacement DeWayne Wise to preserve the perfect game. Buehrle retired the final two batters with a strikeout and ground ball to short. Buehrle received a call from President Barack Obama following the historic effort. Just a week ago Buehrle met Obama personally in the AL All Star game clubhouse. The win moved the White Sox closer to the top of the AL Central, just .001 behind the Tigers and no games behind. The Tigers are 49-44, the Sox 50-45. National League Don't write off the Giants just yet. After losing five of six coming out of the All Star break, Barry Zito - who's been up-and-down for the past three seasons - turned in one of his better performances of the season, working over the Braves for seven innings in a 5-1 win for San Francisco. Zito allowed just three hits, punching out 6 on strikes while allowing five bases on balls. Clearly not working with his best control, he was around the plate enough to keep the Atlanta batters off-balance most of the night. After the Giants scored in the top of the 8th to make the score 2-1, Zito was lifted for a pinch hitter. The Giants scored three more times to guarantee Zito's 6th win against 10 losses this season and close to within one game of Colorado for second place in the NL West, but more importantly, closer to the wild card lead. The Giants have a wealth of pitching talent on their roster and hope to reach the post-season on the strength of their arms. Clearly Barry Zito will have to have more games like Thursday's if they plan on playing in October.

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