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Rays not your average perfecto foe

Rays not your average perfecto foe

Amid the nuggets of history surrounding the 18th perfect game in big league history, the Rays became the first team coming off a World Series the previous year to fall prey to the ultimate pitching feat the following regular season.

As opponents go, the 2009 Rays rank among the tougher foes to make 27 outs without reaching base in the history of perfect games, perhaps making Mark Buehrle's performance for the White Sox on Thursday shimmer a little brighter than it already does.

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Even if they're the first defending league champion to be on the wrong side of the perfecto, the Rays also rank high among victims with a 52-44 (.542) mark following the historic night. Only six other teams had higher winning percentages at the time of the event, and the Rays ended a run of losing opponents in perfect games.

The last four victims -- 2004 Braves vs. Randy Johnson, 1999 Expos vs. David Cone, '98 Twins vs. David Wells, '94 Angels vs. Kenny Rogers -- all had losing records at the time of the feat.

Overall, after being subjected to a perfecto, 10 clubs had losing records following that game and eight were at .500 or better. Of the seven winning teams before the Rays, six went on to have a winning record, with the lone exception the '68 Twins, who went from 13-12 to 79-83. Of those with a losing record when it happened, only three went on to have a winning record, including the 2004 Braves, who won the AL East.

Of course, the Rays aren't the only team with World Series ties to have a perfect night spoil theirs.

Remember, the pitching performance of the century was delivered in the 1956 World Series, when Don Larsen went through the Brooklyn Dodgers' order three times without faltering. That marked the only time a reigning World Series champ was on the losing end of a perfecto and the only other time a defending league champion had been victimized.

And the '88 Dodgers, while not coming off a World Series, went to the Fall Classic and won it the same year the Reds' Tom Browning dealt a perfect game against them. In fact, it came with just 16 games left in the regular season, on Sept. 16.

Not surprisingly, those two Dodgers teams are the winningest to have surrendered a perfect game. The '56 Dodgers finished 93-61 that year, and the '88 Dodgers were 84-61 and finished 94-67.

The other teams with better records than the Rays at the time they had a perfect game thrown their way: '91 Dodgers vs. Dennis Martinez, 56-41; '86 Twins vs. Catfish Hunter, 13-12; 1908 White Sox vs. Addie Joss, 85-63; and the 1880 Cleveland Blues vs. Lee Richmond, 12-10.

On the flip side, the 1964 Mets might have to go down as the losingest opponent in a perfect game, with a 20-46 mark after the Phillies' Jim Bunning, the future Hall of Famer and U.S. Senator, went perfect against them, and winding up 53-109 for the season. Or perhaps that should go to the 1880 Buffalo Bisons, who were 8-18 when Monte Ward of the Providence Grays went perfect on them, and they stampeded to a 24-58 mark.

The Rays certainly don't fit into that conversation, but that's probably little consolation for being on the wrong side of perfection.

Wrong side of a perfect game
What's next for the Rays, now that they've beat beaten by Mark Buehrle and the White Sox in a perfect game? Here's what past history has shown happens to clubs after they lost a perfect game.
Pitcher
Team
Date
Opponent
Opp record after game
Opp Final record
Mark Buehrle Chicago White Sox7/23/2009Tampa Bay Rays52-44???
Randy Johnson Arizona D-Backs5/18/2004Atlanta Braves17-2096-66*
David Cone New York Yankees7/18/1999Montreal Expos33-5568-94
David Wells New York Yankees5/17/1998Minnesota Twins18-2470-92
Kenny Rogers Texas Rangers7/28/1994California Angels42-6147-68
Dennis Martinez Montreal Expos7/28/1991Los Angeles Dodgers56-4193-69
Tom Browning Cincinnati Reds9/16/1988Los Angeles Dodgers84-6194-67**
Mike Witt California Angels9/30/1984Texas Rangers69-9269-92
Len Barker Cleveland Indians5/15/1981Toronto Blue Jays10-2237-69
Catfish Hunter Oakland A's5/8/1968Minnesota Twins13-1279-83
Sandy Koufax Los Angeles Dodgers9/9/1965Chicago Cubs65-7772-90
Jim Bunning Philadelphia Phillies6/21/1964New York Mets20-4653-109
Don Larsen New York Yankees10/8/1956Brooklyn Dodgers93-6193-61***
Charlie Robertson Chicago White Sox4/30/1922Detroit Tigers4-1179-75
Addie Joss Cleveland Indians10/2/1908Chicago White Sox85-6388-64
Cy Young Boston Red Sox5/5/1904Philadelphia A's7-781-70
Monte Ward Providence Grays6/17/1880Buffalo Bisons8-1824-58
Lee Richmond Worcester Ruby Legs6/12/1880Cleveland Blues12-1047-37
* Won NL East
** Won World Series
*** Occurred in World Series

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

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