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By throwing a perfect game to go along with his no-hitter, Mark Buehrle joined four Hall of Famers and a virtual Cooperstown lock as the only pitchers with one of each.
He also became the only pitcher since 1954 (that’s as far as Baseball-Reference.com’s Play Index goes back) to face the minimum over nine innings on three different occasions.
To achieve such monumental feats, however, he needed the efforts of three guys whose careers won’t amount to Buehrle’s… even if you combined them.
It took Dewayne Wise.
No Sox player has endured a rougher season that Wise, who started his season underneath a downpour of boos and continued to make bad situations worse. And most of it wasn’t his fault.
Wise was never a good fit for a leadoff man, and he took the beating when Ozzie Guillen gave him multiple shots to predictably fail in that role. When he finally started hitting, he separated his shoulder making his then-best catch of the season against Detroit.
That led him into a two-front war against his lack of talent and an undeserved injury, one he was losing severely. It came to a head against Baltimore on July 17, when he turned in his worst performance of the year. He went 0-for-5 with seven stranded (the only guy not to reach base), and misplayed a couple balls in the outfield to boot.
All things being equal, Brian Anderson would have been the defensive replacement in the ninth inning on Thursday, and Wise would be in Triple-A Charlotte. But Anderson had an option remaining, and now he’s riding the buses in Charlotte while a friend at a New York City paper is calling me to confirm the spelling of “Dewayne.”
What. A. Catch.
It took Josh Fields.
In Fields’ previous start, David Price pantsed him with fastballs. The Tampa Bay rookie pounded the strike zone without much thought, and Fields looked like he had just made the switch to wooden bats.
On Thursday, however, Fields finally had a pitcher backed into a corner. With the bases loaded and a 3-1 count, Kazmir couldn’t really throw anything besides a fastball. With any mystery eliminated, Fields pounced on a thigh-high pitch and sent it well into the left-field seats.
All series long, the Sox had failed to bring home the runner on third with less than two outs. Fields didn’t just take the load off himself and give a big early cushion to Buehrle — he provided a much-needed boost for the entire offense. I don’t think anybody saw that coming.
It took Ramon Castro.
Castro found himself in Jerry Manuel’s doghouse, with the surprising Omir Santos taking the bulk of the backup catcher’s at-bats with the New York Mets.
You couldn’t find the reason in the stats. His .750 OPS was more than acceptable by reserve catcher standards, and he was throwing out runners at an improved rate.
The general consensus was that Castro clowned around too much for Manuel’s liking, earning labels such as “lazy” and “apathetic.” With no need for three catchers on the 25-man roster, the Mets ditched him and his salary for Lance Broadway.
Since the trade, Santos is hitting like a White Sox backup catcher — .233/.275/.314 — and the Mets are sinking right along with him. They’re 17-30 since the trade, half their lineup is on the disabled list, and their vice president is tearing his shirt off and picking fights with the Double-A team.
Oh, and Broadway? Over 42 2/3 innings with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons, he’s walked more batters (20) than he’s struck out (16).
Meanwhile, in 10 games with the White Sox, Castro has caught three of the best five White Sox starts. Maybe it shouldn’t have been a surprise that he caught a perfect game in his first time working with Buehrle. After all, in his inaugural Jose Contreras start, The Count only allowed one more hit and one more walk than Buehrle did over his eight innings.
Who knows — maybe the Mets had just cause for cutting him loose. All I know is Castro has just cause to laugh it up right now.
One guy who isn’t laughing: Anderson.
One could debate whether he had awful or brilliant timing with his latest trade demand. Before the game, he told designated-shoulder-to-cry-on Scott Merkin:
“A guy at my age, I told him, and not that I’ve turned heads by any means offensively, but I need to play every day and be an everyday big leaguer. I have more to offer. If it’s not with the White Sox, then maybe it really is time for a change.”
The guy who beat out Anderson for the last spot on the roster then went on to save a perfect game with an immaculate catch.
On one hand, the way the events played out makes him look incredibly small. On the other hand, Anderson’s trade request is nowhere to be found on the White Sox site’s news page, pushed off by all the angles on Buehrle’s perfecto. So if there were any day to make an unflattering proclamation, Thursday would be it.
No matter — it’s probably a fruitless request. Joe Cowley said Anderson had been on the block already, though, but Kenny Williams found no takers.
That should come as no surprise, because Anderson has no clue at the plate.
Back when I had a site, I’d mentioned that pitchers could neuter Anderson simply by throwing a first-pitch breaking ball for a strike. Every hitter is at a disadvantage with an 0-1 count, but Anderson’s splits show an increasing disparity. Let’s update the numbers:
The White Sox as a whole:
- After 1-0: .268/.388/.442
- After 0-1: .251/.291/.395
- After 1-0: .329/.472/.457 (89 PA)
- After 0-1: .129/.169/.153 (89 PA)
Given the way his numbers have steadily declined, I think it’s safe to say everybody’s scouting report says the same thing.
That being the case, Anderson should probably make this his final trade request. At this pace, he’ll have his choice of organizations when he’s DFA’d a year from now.