Over three games Mark Buehrle was perfect through 15 innings. Starting on July 18, when Nick Markakis flied out to center in the 8th, through Thursday’s perfect game and ending in the sixth inning of last night’s game not one batter reached base. As a result Buehrle set the major league record with 45 straight batters retired. Coincidentally the previous record holder Bobby Jenks, tied with Jim Barr for 41 batters, was sitting in the bullpen watching as it happened.
Over those 45 batters Buehrle got nine strikeouts, 22 ground outs, eight fly outs, two line outs and four pop outs. A truly amazing performance. I wanted to partially analyze partially commemorate the streak by looking at the location of Buehrle’s pitches. The image is a little messy, but there are some striking trends.
To begin with look how much he is in the zone. If you are going to go 15 innings without walking anyone, this is what it looks like. Beyond that though, against RHBs, he stayed out of the heart of the plate. One lonely curve down the middle, and everything else in this donut shaped area along the edges of the strike zone. Tons of pitches in the zone, but nothing in the heart, that is a recipe for success. Against righties you can see Buehrle’s plan, cutters and fastballs up and in and changeups low-and-away. That is just a beautiful pattern of pitch types and locations.
As I talked about in my Washburn one-hitter post you can’t get a no-hitter or one-hitter without lots of help from the defense. So here are all the outs at US Cellular during the streak, the one Markakis fly out from the 18th and all his balls in play during the perfect game.
You can see that amazing DeWayne Wise catch. Here are all his outs at the Metrodome during the streak.
Only one ball in play out of the infield and no line drives.
As a whole, notwithstanding the Wise catch, these were some very fieldable balls in play. Only 2 LDs over 36 balls in play, probalby a result of Buehrle staying out of the heart of the plate. In addition, out of 12 fly balls four were infield fly balls, the easiest balls in play to field. Three of these came on those up-and-in fastballs and cutters to RHBs, so Buehrle gets credit for those very fieldable balls in play. Still the defense needs to be given credit, 22 ground balls and all outs, nice work.
An amazing 15 innings for Buehrle, and wonderful for us that we could watch this piece of baseball history.