Sunday, August 2, 2009

Game 105: Perfect Day

CC Sabathia remains the Yankees last hope to scoop the last game of this series, leave Chicago with a portion of their dignity intact and guarantee that they will still have a share of the lead in the AL East when play ends today. The Red Sox are just a half of a game back now and begin play in Baltimore at 1:35, so you can expect some scoreboard watching.

The Big CCheese hasn't been especially good as of late, and the offense hasn't been particularly productive behind him all year. Over his past 7 starts, he's been mixing in some solid performances (three games with 7IP and one or fewer runs) with some stinkers (three starts with more than 5 runs allowed). He's allowed more than a hit per inning over that time in addition to 12 walks while striking out 39. The Yanks need their man to step up in order to get their first win against a team with "Sox" in their name this year.

The White Stockings will counter with their own lefty ace. Mark Buerhle has been pitching in some rarefied air as of late, following up his perfect game against the Rays by retiring the first 17 batters he faced in his next start against the Twins. Dating back to his previous start against the Orioles, Buerhle had retired a Major League record 45 batters in a row without allowing a walk, hit, hit by pitch or having an error committed behind him. Pretty remarkable stuff.

Of course, the wheels came off for the lefty and he ended up getting tagged for 5 runs and the loss against the Twins. But such is the delicate balance of being a pitcher. For all of the efforts to reduce it down to mechanics and execution, it remains incredibly difficult to have extended runs of dominance and when they do occur, they can vanish instantly. It's not like golf where the ball is stationary. It's not like basketball where the hoop is. It's not like football where the person you are throwing it to shares a common goal. As evidenced by the at bat I detailed last night, a batter can intervene at any time and spoil the hurler's plan.

As a reminder of how rare elusive perfection can be, before Buerhle, the last perfect game thrown by a Pale Hose pitcher was by Charlie Roberston in 1922. It was followed by a league-wide perfect game drought that lasted over 34 years and ended with Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series.

It's yet another rainy shitshow on the East Coast, but it could scarcely be nicer out in Chicago. Great day for some baseball. Some might even say it's a...

Just a perfect day,
Problems are left to know,
Weekenders all night long,
It's such fun.

Just a perfect day,
You make me forget myself,
I thought I was someone else,
Someone good.