By Joe Christensen
Stroll through any big league clubhouse before a game, and players are usually watching video of the opposing pitcher’s previous start. But the Twins took a different approach Tuesday, choosing not to watch replays of Mark Buehrle against Tampa Bay last Thursday, when he tossed the 18th perfect game in big league history.
After all, they had seen plenty of Buehrle over the years. This was his 39th career start against Minnesota. Matter of fact, before this one, the Twins were watching replays of July 12, when they thumped Buehrle for eight runs in 3 1/3 innings.
Granted, the Twins still felt like they had lived through Buehrle’s perfecto.
“I saw the same thing the whole world saw,” Denard Span said. “Seemed like they showed every out on SportsCenter for two or three days.”
“Nah, I didn’t look at that,” Span said. “I went up there and swung at the first pitch. I don’t ever do that. I was trying to get the perfect game out of the way.”
This went on for 5 2/3 innings. I’ve never seen a no-hitter in person before, and here I was, dusting up on my Johnny Vander Meer history.
When Buehrle missed low with his 3-2 change-up to Casilla, with two outs in the sixth inning, everything changed. After retiring 45 consecutive batters — a record-breaking streak dating to July 18 against Baltimore — Buehrle let seven of nine reach base.
Span said the key was forcing the lefthander to finally switch from the windup to the stretch position.
“He was making us look foolish, to be honest,” Span said. “Nobody came close to hitting the ball on the barrell. … I saw the ball a lot better when he was in the stretch as opposed to in the windup.”
Span hit a soft liner to center, ending Buehrle’s no-hit bid. Then Joe Mauer hit his run-scoring double to left field — a tailing fly that Scott Podsednik probably should have caught.
That tied the score, and the Twins added four runs in the seventh. It looked like Joe Crede and Michael Cuddyer executed a hit-and-run play that inning, but Cuddyer actually didn’t break early. Second baseman Chris Getz left his position for no apparent reason. Nick Punto’s slicing liner to right field made it 4-1.
No wonder Buehrle was in no mood to dwell on his new record.
“It might mean more tomorrow or the next day, once I cool off,” he said.
In the end, it was just another Twins rally against the White Sox, who are 3-12 in their past 15 games at the Metrodome.
“It’s probably the most fired up I’ve been after a game,” Buehrle said. “I’m not a big fan of broken-bat bloop singles. It just seems that every time in this place, you know it’s going to happen. So its frustrating.”
It’s amazing the Twins could make Buehrle feel that way after riding that historic wave.
Note: After the game, the White Sox announced that Bartolo Colon has been scratched from Wednesday’s start with a sore elbow. Jose Contreras, who last pitched Friday, will make the start for Chicago, opposite lefthander Francisco Liriano. La Velle has our coverage so check his blog for the starting lineups.