Buehrle baffles Tigers as ChiSox roll
The driving rainstorm that postponed Wednesday's Detroit-Chicago game gave Mark Buehrle an extra day of rest and he took full advantage. Or did he?
"Nah," he said, smiling, "I think I would have thrown a no-hitter if I had pitched yesterday."
As it is, the White Sox left-hander came pretty close to duplicating - or even improving upon - the no-hitter he threw in 2007. Buehrle retired the first 19 batters Thursday night before Placido Polanco's double ended his bid for a perfect game.
That was the only hit Buehrle allowed in eight innings as he led Chicago to a 6-0 victory over the Tigers, who were shut out for the first time this season.
Buehrle's dominance had a familiar look to Tigers catcher Gerald Laird, who was playing for Texas on April 18, 2007, when Buehrle threw his no-hitter.
"He had similar stuff," said Laird, who made the final out for the Rangers that day. "He was back and forth, cutters in, keeping you off balance, getting a lot of groundballs and guys having a lot of bad swings.
"I was thinking ... 'Darn, I'm going to be in the lineup twice if this happens."'
Buehrle (5-0) said he threw more changeups this time against mostly cut fastballs in '07. The 30-year-old is the first White Sox lefty to win his first five decisions in a season since Wilson Alvarez in 1994.
Asked if he thought he would ever lose this season, he said: "Probably. Then I'm going to retire."
Fat chance. He's having too much fun.
"I feel so lucky," Buehrle said. "It's an honor to pitch in the major leagues. It's a kid's game and I try to have as much fun as I can, win or lose. A lot of people would love to be doing what I'm doing, and I appreciate every minute of it."
The team is 6-0 in Buehrle's starts - and 7-14 in games started by all others.
A.J. Pierzynski and Jayson Nix homered for the White Sox, who snapped a four-game losing streak.
Bobby Jenks allowed two singles in the ninth but preserved Chicago's second shutout this season by retiring the next three batters.
Working quickly and throwing strikes, Buehrle didn't need any great defensive plays and went to a three-ball count only once through 6 1-3 innings.
After Polanco lined an 0-2 pitch into the left-field corner, the fans gave Buehrle a standing ovation. Buehrle then walked Clete Thomas and Magglio Ordonez, loading the bases with two outs, before retiring Laird on a fly to center.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland was effusive in his praise of Buehrle, who is 14-8 with a 2.86 ERA in 27 career starts against Detroit.
"In, out, cut the ball, jam guys, tail away, change up on them - that's the art of pitching," Leyland said. "He just carved us up, made it look easy."
The game took 2 hours, 2 minutes - one minute less than Buerhle's no-hitter, which also finished 6-0.
This time, the White Sox scored five runs in the first inning with two outs to give Buehrle all the cushion he needed.
Armando Galarraga (3-2) walked Chris Getz and Jim Thome before giving up Jermaine Dye's RBI single. Paul Konerko followed with a two-run double and scored on Pierzynski's homer into the bleachers in right.
The White Sox had scored a total of four runs in the first innings of their first 26 games.
Nix, who has spent most of his nine-year professional career in the minors, hit his first career homer in the fourth. The rookie was playing only because White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen benched shortstop Alexei Ramirez, the runner-up in last year's AL Rookie of the Year voting but only a .211 hitter so far this season.
One start after allowing five runs in five innings, Galarraga allowed six runs in six. His ERA has gone from 1.85 before those outings to 4.08.
In his last six games, Pierzynski is batting .542 with three homers and seven RBIs, lifting his average from .220 to .313. ... Tigers LHP Dontrelle Willis, on the DL with anxiety disorder because he had trouble throwing strikes in spring training, is scheduled to make his season debut next Wednesday at Minnesota. ... Polanco has a career .406 average against Buehrle and .325 against Chicago.