Yeah, yeah, it's only one game out of 162. That may be true, but it doesn't make it sting any less.
The Rangers had only been no-hit twice in their entire franchise history: once by Jim Colborn on May 14th, 1977, and once by Mike Witt on September 30th, 1984.
On April 18th, 2007, Mark Buerhle made that three times the Rangers have been no-hit.
Texas was baffled by Buerhle, with the closest thing to a hit all night being Jerry Hairston Jr.'s controversial play at first. Joe Crede snagged a sharp line drive off Hairston's bat down the left field line and made a great throw, while Hairston dove headfirst into first base. Whether he was safe or out is debatable, but first base umpire Jim Hoye called him out.
After a short argument, Hairston threw his hands into the air and tossed his helmet towards the Rangers dugout, prompting Hoye to eject him from the game. Hairston came flying back out of the dugout and had to be physically restrained while Ron Washington came out to investigate. Jerry may be in line for a suspension if he initiated contact with the umpire; I thought he grabbed the umpire's uniform, but perhaps not. Needless to say, it was the only exciting moment of the evening for Texas fans.
Hank Blalock hit a long fly ball to the top of the wall in the second inning, but Dye did a half-leap to take away a potential home run. The one saving grace of the game was Sammy Sosa drawing a walk to break up the perfect game; of course, he was picked off first base by Buerhle moments later.
Kevin Millwood held the Sox in check for four innings, surrendering just a Jim Thome solo shot, but got himself into big trouble in the 5th inning. After easily retiring the first two hitters, Millwood gave up a single and two walks. After a ten pitch battle, Jermaine Dye proceeded to hit one of the lowest trajectory home runs that I have ever seen, an absolute laser that just barely cleared the left field wall. With Texas down 5-0 and with the way Buerhle was pitching, everybody knew the game was over. The only question remaining was whether Buerhle could finish what he had started. He did.
And you know what? Buerhle deserves full credit; that was a gem of a performance. I don't really like or respect him as a player, which stems back to his ridiculous claims that the Rangers were cheating at home using a sophisticated light system in the center field office building. But I can certainly respect how well he pitched.
Despite the major bump in the road, Texas can still win their three game series with Chicago with a win tonight in the rubber game. Brad Wilkerson was held out of the lineup on Wednesday due to a sore left knee, which he injured late in Tuesday's game...between innings. No word on exactly how he hurt himself, but based on the timeline of events it sounds like it happened as he was jogging to take his position in left field. Classic Bad Brad.
Then again, you can't make too much fun of him: he has the second best OPS on the team at .817, behind only Ian Kinsler. In any case, Wilkerson had a cortisone shot before Wednesday's game and could be out for several more games. Jason Botts and Victor Diaz are the most likely replacements if he requires a visit to the disabled list.
Amazingly enough, Seattle fans probably had a tougher night than Texas fans. Felix Hernandez, the Mariners' ace, left last night's game in the first inning with tightness in his right elbow. Although it may not be serious, an injury such as this can often be a precursor to serious arm problems and/or Tommy John surgery. All of this happened just hours after the news came down that Seattle's NBA franchise, the Supersonics, would likely be leaving town after the 2007-2008 season. Brutal.
Anaheim's Howie Kendrick is out indefinitely with a broken bone in his left hand. He had been their second best hitter thus far behind Vlad, with a .327/.365/.490 batting line. Pretty major blow, and while it helps the Rangers, I'm getting rather tired of having to hope for misfortune to strike other AL West teams in order for Texas to stay in the playoff race. At some point, the Rangers are going to have to step up and deliver, or they're going to stay buried in mediocrity.
There is one bright spot about last night's game: things can't possibly get any worse tonight.
Thursday, April 19th Game Preview
Texas Rangers ( 6-8 ) at Chicago White Sox ( 6-7 )
Vicente Padilla ( 0-3, 6.62 ERA ) vs. Javier Vazquez ( 2-0, 1.50 ERA )
7:11 PM CST in Chicago, Illinois (U.S. Cellular Field)
TV: FSNSW | Radio: KRLD 1080 AM