Eleven days ago, Mark Buehrle walked Alexi Casilla with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning of a one zero White Sox lead against the Minnesota Twins. That walk ended a run of 45 consecutive retired batters, a new Major League Baseball record. Five days prior, he threw the first perfect game in White Sox history.
Since that walk, Buerhle has gone 0-3 with an ERA of 8.35.
So after such a momentous and historical run of being literally unhittable, what has happened to Buehrle's game?
Well, if you watch Buehrle pitch, you can see his mechanics are all wrong, his release point is down, his cutter isn't cutting and his slider isn't sliding. His fastball is staying up over the plate, which is a free lunch to most Major League hitters. This is obvious, but why the sudden change?
In this writers opinion, the pressure is all too much for the White Sox ace. The national and international recognition of his perfect game and new consecutive batter record, along with a well publicised congratulatory phone call from President Obama and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley even naming last Thursday "Mark Buehrle Day" in the state of Illinois.
All these accolades has created unbelieveable pressure on Buehrle to continue to perform and be lights-out every start.
But there is another factor to consider. For the last nine years, Buerhle has been the ace of the White Sox staff. The No. 1 guy, opening day starter, the man on the South Side. His position has been relatively unchallenged and he has grown comfortable because of it.
Now, along comes Jake Peavy. Another legitimate ace who will be the first real threat to Buehrle's throne. Even more pressure to perform to prove he can still be the number one man when Peavy returns from injury in a month or so.
I have no doubt that Buehrle will find his form again and settle back down into winning ways. But for now he is just a man, struggling to cope with his own amazing success and trying answer the expectations of a million White Sox fans.
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