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A's Anderson learns from Buehrle

A's Anderson learns from Buehrle

NEW YORK -- Brett Anderson can look you straight in the eye and tell you what it feels like to retire the first 20 batters of a game and prepare to battle No. 21. He was faced with that situation earlier this week, coming within seven outs of a perfect game against the Angels on Sunday in just his 17th Major League start.

Having come so close, only to have it snatched away in an instant, made seeing Mark Buehrle's perfect game on Thursday a revelation. Mere days ago, Anderson was going through the same thing, trying to juggle the intense pressure, excitement and nervousness -- all while handling an opposing lineup.

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Anderson watched the final three innings of Thursday's monumental performance from his locker with extreme interest on the overhead television screens in the visitors' clubhouse at Yankee Stadium. Because one day, he hopes, he'll be in that position again, and he can use any inspiration he can get to next time finish the deal.

"Watching Buehrle today, you can obviously tell what it takes," said Anderson, who ultimately pitched eight shutout frames on Sunday in an eventual 1-0 Oakland loss in extra innings. "You got to have some great plays behind you. It's fun, especially because lefties watch other lefties, so it was special to watch him throw one."

Though history will likely forever remember Dewayne Wise's miracle catch in the ninth inning to preserve the perfecto, Anderson took something else from the game. He'll look back at the three-ball counts Buehrle had to squirm through. Each time, with everything on the line, Buehrle went to his changeup and threw it for a strike.

Anderson has heard hundreds of times during his young career the importance of being able to throw any pitch in any count. But seeing Buehrle showcase that principle in a perfect game carries more weight than any speech by a pitching coach.

"You have to have confidence in your stuff, to throw certain pitches in certain counts," Anderson said. "I had two three-ball counts that other day and threw two fastballs. I had some confidence in the slider, I guess, but I'm definitely not throwing changeups in that spot."

Between innings on Thursday, TV cameras showed Buehrle laughing and joking with his teammates, not sitting secluded on the corner of the bench, which has become customary during a no-hitter. Anderson said he was the same way during his near-perfect game, not wanting to overthink or psyche himself out.

What impressed Anderson was how fast Buehrle worked, even in the late innings, and how he looked so poised on the mound despite the magnitude of the moment. This is a characteristic he hopes to emulate moving forward.

Already, there are clear similarities between Anderson and Buehrle. Both are left-handed and cannot rely on velocity to get batters out. Buehrle is known for working quickly and shortening the game -- a trait Anderson believes he also possesses.

Four days have passed between Anderson's close call and Buehrle's perfect game. For Anderson, the timing was perfect. In one thrilling instant, Anderson had the chance to witness history and learn a little bit more about the art of pitching, just by watching a pitcher who, for one day, figured it all out.

"That's what I get from watching him," Anderson said. "It's not so much stuff. It's the way he goes about the game. You don't need to throw 100 [mph] or have a devastating breaking ball to throw a perfect game."

Jared Diamond is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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