Mark Buehrle is not the guy most people would have picked to throw the season's first no-hitter, but the Chicago White Sox pitcher did just that Wednesday, erasing memories of not-so-stellar 2006 campaign.
And on Monday, he earned his first American League Player of the Week Award as a result of the gem.Last season, Buehrle was struggling to earn wins instead of almost pitching perfect games. He turned in a 3-7 record with a 6.44 ERA in the second half of the 2006 season.
"My name and no-hitter shouldn't go together," said Buehrle at a press conference Thursday. "It just doesn't sound right. I don't know if it will be until the offseason that it sinks in. " Buehrle's milestone, the 16th no-hitter in White Sox history and a 6-0 victory over the Texas Rangers, was almost a perfect game. Buehrle pitched to the minimum 27 batters, but walked Sammy Sosa in the fifth inning. Sosa was later picked off at first. But Buehrle wasn't disappointed about coming so close to a perfect game without collecting one. How could he be when he just felt lucky to have held onto the no-hitter? "You just have to have to so much stuff happen. I think Kenny Lofton hit one down the left-field line that was an inch foul. If the ball would have went an inch fairer, then the no-hitter would have been over," Buehrle said. "You just need so much to go your way, and I never thought it'd be me that got it." The left-hander has flirted with a no-hitter before. On Aug. 3, 2001, he pitched a complete game one-hitter against Tampa Bay. Buehrle's performance Wednesday was the first White Sox no-hitter since Wilson Alvarez did so on Aug. 11, 1991, against Baltimore. "You never want to think it's going to happen early, get your hopes up and then have them come crashing down," White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said after Wednesday's game. "But the way Buehrle was mowing through them and cutting them up, it was amazing -- especially against a lineup that hit us hard in the past." Buehrle struck out eight in the no-hitter and is off to a sizzling season beginning entering Monday's start against the Royals, having allowed just seven hits and three walks in 17 innings while posting a 2.08 ERA. He holds a 98-66 record over parts of seven seasons as a starter. Buehrle beat out New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez (.370, five homers, 13 RBIs), teammate and designated hitter Jim Thome (.455, three homers, 15 walks), Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner (.545, three homers, eight RBIs) and Boston's Josh Beckett (2-0, 3.55 ERA, 12 2/3 innings pitched, 12 strikeouts).
Becky Regan is an associate reporter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.