05/08/09 12:30 AM ET
Tigers have to tip caps to Buehrle
Detroit lineup struggles against veteran Chicago lefty
By David Just / Special to MLB.com
That was the sentiment inside the Detroit clubhouse after White Sox starter Mark Buehrle threw 6 1/3 innings of perfect baseball en route to a 6-0 victory over the visiting Tigers on Thursday at U.S. Cellular Field.
Buehrle (5-0) was at the top of his game, changing speeds, mixing pitches and fooling hitters. He retired the first 19 batters he faced before Placido Polanco lined a one-out double to left field in the seventh.
"He just carved us up," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of Buehrle. "Evidently he's been carving some other teams up. You can't find a flaw in that performance tonight. He made us look bad."
The same wasn't true of Detroit starter Armando Galarraga (3-2). A dreaded leadoff walk to Chris Getz kicked off a five-run first inning that the Tigers were never able to recover from.
Galarraga managed to retire the next two batters after Getz, but he fell behind in the count to Jim Thome and decided to pitch around him.
He later regretted the decision.
"I threw him a first-pitch slider for a strike," Galarraga said. "It's not like I didn't go after him. The next pitch, I threw a sinker for a ball. Then I threw a slider for a ball. And I wanted to throw a sinker for a strike, but when I threw the sinker for a ball, now it was 3-1. I didn't want to go there. I said, 'OK, it's 3-1 and I have first base open.'"
"That's a no-no," added Leyland of pitching around Thome. "And it ended up costing him."
With runners on first and second, Jermaine Dye singled to left to plate one run. Paul Konerko then doubled to drive in two, and A.J. Pierzynski sent an 0-2 slider over the right-field wall to cap the damage.
Galarraga only gave up three hits after the first inning, including a solo home run to Jayson Nix, the first of his career. Overall, though, there was plenty for Leyland to like about the start.
"He hung in there, and I think, to his credit, he continued to battle," Leyland said of Galarraga's six-inning performance. "He did get better. I give him a lot of credit for that. I lot of guys would cave in. He did not do that."
The Detroit lineup had some opportunities to narrow the gap. After Polanco's single in the seventh, Buehrle walked Clete Thomas and Magglio Ordonez to load the bases. But Gerald Laird flew out to center to end the threat.
Coincidentally, Laird was in the visiting Rangers lineup on April 18, 2007, when Buehrle tossed a no-hitter. Thursday night was like déjà vu for the veteran backstop.
"I saw a glimpse into the same kind of thing," Laird said. "He's one of those guys who works real fast and kind of gets you into a corner. When he gets in a rhythm, he's go, go, go, go. Next thing you know, you're in the box and it's 0-2. Tonight I saw a lot of similarities to that game.
"I was thinking, 'I'm going to be in the lineup twice if this happens.' So we luckily got a hit, and that was the end of it."
The Tigers, who have lost eight of their last nine games at U.S. Cellular Field, were shut out for the first time this season. Detroit had just three hits, two of which came off the bat of Polanco.
"He threw three fastballs [to me]," Polanco said of his seventh-inning at-bat during which he broke up the perfect game. "He was working really fast, mixing speeds, in and out."
Bobby Jenks picked up the save for the White Sox, but the Tigers had one last chance to try to get a rally going. Curtis Granderson and Polanco led off the ninth with singles. However, Jenks retired the next three in order, striking out Ordonez to finish off the Tigers.
Ordonez is 0-for-11 in his last three games. Asked whether his starting right fielder might be pressing, Leyland had little to say.
"I can't answer that," the manager said. "He's just struggling. That's obvious."
Against Buehrle, though, there was little the Tigers could do.
David Just is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.