Mark Buehrle Of The Chicago White Sox Pitches a Perfect Game

Jake D'AgostinoCorrespondent IJuly 29, 2009

CHICAGO, IL - JULY 23: Pitcher Mark Buehrle #56 of the Chicago White Sox pitches in the 9th inning as he pitches a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays at U.S. Cellular Field on July 23, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Rays 5-0, as Buehrle became the 18th pitcher in 132 years of major league baseball to throw a perfect game. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

On Thursday, July 23, 2009, Chicago White Sox' pitcher Mark Buerhle threw the 18th perfect game in MLB history.

For those of you who do not know, a perfect game occurs when a pitcher allows zero runs, zero hits, and zero runners on base for an entire game. This means no walks, no errors, or anything else that will put a batter on base.

In order to qualify as a perfect game, it must also be a no-hitter, shut-out, and complete game. Although multiple pitchers could technically combine to throw a perfect game, this has never happened before.

Also, if the game were to continue into extra innings, the pitcher would have to sustain their perfection, although this has never been necessary.

That should put what Mark Buehrle has accomplished into perspective.

When the White Sox defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 5-0 that day, it marked the first perfect game since Randy Johnson's in 2004. It was also Mark's second career no-hitter.

While it was a "perfect game", there were plenty of close calls and scary moments. So although this game will only be remembered for an astounding pitching performance and one incredible catch, it is important to take a look at the game as a whole.

The first inning was scoreless for both teams, with Buehrle giving us a preview of what he would do for the remainder of the game, which was to not allow any runners on base and to quickly retire the Rays' batters.

In the second inning, Josh Fields hit a grand slam that brought home Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin, and Ramon Castro to put Chicago up 4-0, a lead that they would maintain for the rest of the game. This was also the first perfect game to feature a grand slam in MLB history.

Mark Buehrle continued to dominate after his team got the lead. He may not have thrown as many fastballs as you might expect, but he had great command over his change-ups and curveballs all game long.

While Buehrle mowed down the Rays' lineup, Tampa's pitcher Scott Kazmir rebounded pretty well after giving up the grand slam. The only other time that the Sox were able to score on him was in the fifth inning, when Alexei Ramirez hit an RBI double that scored Scott Podsednik.

That would be the last time Kazmir was scored upon, as he would eventually be pulled, with his record falling to 4-6 with the latest loss. The Rays gave up five runs and six hits in total.

Meanwhile, Buehrle and the White Sox were not having any problems with the Rays' offense.

Not until the top of the eighth inning, when Pat Burrell lined a shot down the third-base line. It looked as though it would end up fair, but at the last second it bounced to the left of the line, which is out of play.

It was a close call for third-base umpire Laz Diaz, who narrowly avoided being hit by the ball while making an excellent call.

Burrell would line out to third a couple of pitches later to end the inning.

Now we move to the bottom of the ninth, when the story of a perfect game was all that anybody watching or playing could think about.

It seemed that the embarrassment of being the losing end of a perfect game had given the Rays the motivation that they needed to finally put a runner on base when Gabe Kapler knocked a home run ball to center field.

The ball was clearly heading over the fence, and actually was beyond the wall when Dewayne Wise, a defensive replacement for the Sox, made an incredible catch to save a sure-homer that would have ruined Mark Buehrle's perfect moment.

Wise had just been put in at center before the bottom of the ninth, a move that proved crucial for the White Sox. I guess that not everything manager Ozzie Guillen does is crazy. Who knew?

Wise's catch has been deemed one of the greatest of all time based on the circumstances by various renowned baseball analysts. However, the tense and nerve-racking moments would not to cease just then.

Buehrle still needed two outs, and Michel Hernandez was one of them. The first pitch was a strike, but when the next three pitches were all balls, everyone was wondering if Buehrle would have enough gas in the tank to finish the job.

But he was not flustered even when falling behind in the count 3-1, and rebounded by throwing a pair of strikes when the pressure was greatest. And there was one out left.

By then, the game was being nationally broadcasted so that millions at home could watch on with the 28,000 present at U.S. Cellular Field. Good thing Mark Buehlre didn't know that.

Actually, it probably wouldn't have mattered, as he was joking around in the dugout the whole game, even when he knew that he had a lot to concentrate on. Keeping quiet and to himself is just not Buehrle's thing.

Of course, he must have been just a little nervous when he faced Jason Bartlett, the only thing standing between himself and perfection.

First he threw a strike; then two balls. On the next pitch however, Bartlett saw what he liked and decided to take a swing at it.

He ended up hitting the ball right into the waiting glove of shortstop Alexei Ramirez, who threw it to Josh Fields for the final out of a historic game.

Players from the White Sox dugout swarmed Buehrle after his outstanding achievement.

To celebrate, the White Sox carried out a ritual used to commemorate a big-time performance by an individual. This of course was the pie-to-the-face celebration.

While it was certainly and unquestionably Mark Buehrle's shining achievement and his moment in the spotlight, much credit is due to Dewayne Wise, who will go down in history for his clutch performance as well.

Buehrle finished with 6 strikeouts, while forcing 11 ground outs on a total of 116 pitches. Overall, he allowed 0 hits, 0 walks, and 0 runs. He faced twenty-seven batters, and sent twenty-seven batters back to the dugout.

Buehrle would improve his record to 11-3, a tie for the best in baseball. The win also put the ChiSox in a tie for first-place in the AL Central with the rival Detroit Tigers. They have since fallen behind Detroit.

Although this is one of the finest performances in recent memory, there is still of a lot of work and a lot of catching up to do for Buehrle and the White Sox.

But for now, Buehrle should savor this win, along with the rest of the club. After all, perfection is a high level to reach. Being perfect is not a claim that most of us can never make at any point in our lives, so my hat's off to you Mark.