Sunday, July 26, 2009

More on perfect games

In conjunction with the Monday print column, more on perfectos:

* Mark Buehrle's game Thursday was the 18th official perfect game. That official list leaves out two games that went extra innings, and the pitcher allowed a baserunner after the ninth inning.

The first, and most famous, was that of Harvey Haddix on May 26, 1959. The Kitten — so dubbed for his resemblance to Harry "the Cat" Brecheen — threw 12 shutout innings. In the 13th, his third baseman, Don Hoak, committed an error. He walked Henry Aaron intentionally. The Joe Adcock hit a pitch over the fence — but passed Aaron between second and third. The result was a one-run double, not a three-run homer — but still a win for Milwaukee.

The second was that of Pedro Martinez on June 3, 1995. He gave up a leadoff double in the 10th inning and was immediately relieved by Mel Rojas, who wrapped up the Montreal win.

At least Pedro got the W. All Haddix got out of it was a loss.

* The Twins have been on the losing end of two perfect games — Catfish Hunter on May 8, 1968, and David Wells on May 17, 1998. There's no question that Hunter faced the more difficult lineup — Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew and Tony Oliva, plus Cesar Tovar and Bob Allison. And, yeah, Bruce Look and Jackie Hernandez. (The idea that Hernandez was hitting seventh ...)

The 1998 lineup had Paul Molitor, but by then Molly was a shell of what he had been. And the rest of the lineup ... well, there were a lot of reasons the Twins of the late '90s were so bad, and many of those reasons were playing that day.

* The worst pitcher to throw a perfect game may have faced the toughest lineup. Charlie Robertson on April 30, 1922 did it to the Detroit Tigers. The Tiger outfield featured Ty Cobb (batting average that season of .401), Harry Heilmann (.356) and Bobby Veach (.327). As a team that year, the Tigers averaged .306.

Robertson was making only his second major league start. It did not presage a glorious career: He finished his career 49-80 with an ERA of 4.44 and never had a winning season.

* Addie Joss' perfecto on Oct. 2, 1908 has frequently been called the greatest pitchers duel ever. He and fellow Hall-of-Famer Ed Walsh matched up in this heated pennant race game. Joss threw a perfect game; Walsh struck out 15 and allowed a single unearned run. Joss, possessor of the game's best fast ball at the time, would be dead in three years.

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