July 28, 2009: Mark Buehrle of the Chicago White Sox sets a major league record by retiring 45 consecutive batters over a three-game stretch. The streak started when Buehrle retired the final man he faced against the Baltimore Orioles 10 days earlier.Then, he became the 18th pitcher in big league history to throw a perfect game in a 5-0 win over Tampa Bay. Buehrle finished the record on this day by setting down the first 17 Minnesota Twins batters he faced—going five perfect innings before issuing a walk in the sixth. (Buehrle would then allow five runs in an eventual 5-3 loss.)
The previous record of 41 straight retired batters was set by and San Francisco’s Jim Barr in 1972 and tied by teammate Bobby Jenks, a reliever, in 2007. And the record returned to the Bay in 2014 when the Yusmeiro Petit broke the record by retiring 46 straight during the Giants’ last World Series championship season.
Buehrle went a solid 214-160 in a 16-year big league career from 2000-15. With the perfecto, Buehrle became only the third pitcher in baseball history to record a no-hitter, a perfect game, and a World Series title with the same team. The others: Cy Young and Sandy Koufax. Buehrle’s World Series happened in 2005, and the no-hitter (the first of two, of course) in 2007.
Another of the lesser-known but much-revered pitching records is consecutive scoreless innings. Walter Johnson, the former Weiser semi-pro hurler featured in this space on Tuesday, threw 55 2/3 straight scoreless innings for the Washington Senators in 2013, a major league that stood until the L.A. Dodgers’ Don Drysdale broke it with 58 consecutive shutout innings in 1968. Twenty years later, Dodgers ace Orel Hershiser went one inning better.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)