Most of the time, when it’s a record you’ve never heard of, it’s not a very important record.
Who remembered that Jim Barr once retired 42 consecutive batters? Who remembers that Bobby Jenks tied the record two summers ago?
Barr did it over two starts, 37 years ago, without ever throwing a no-hitter. Jenks did it over 14 relief appearances.
Really, it was one of baseball’s more obscure records. Really, it seemed more an oddity than a great accomplishment to be celebrated.
Today, it feels like it matters, because Mark Buehrle made it matter.
Today, Mark Buehrle owns a record that we might remember for a while, because of how he did it. His 45 straight outs included a perfect game last week against the Rays, and also a remarkable 5 2/3 perfect innings tonight against the Twins.
As Twins announcer Dick Bremer said, just seconds before Buehrle walked Alexi Casilla with two out in the sixth, “I can’t believe what I’m seeing.”
I was thinking the exact same thing. If you were watching, I’ll bet you were, too.
“At least in the game with the Rays, they hit some line drives,” Bremer said.
This one was looking too easy. This time Buehrle didn’t need Dewayne Wise, because the Twins weren’t hitting any fly balls, let alone any fly balls headed over the fence.
This time, we were sending updates across the internet after every inning.
First inning, 31 consecutive batters. Second inning, 34. Third inning, 37.
Last Thursday’s game was one of those we’ll remember forever, but for most of us, we really didn’t start paying attention until the sixth or seventh inning.
Tonight, we were watching right from the start.
We couldn’t believe what we were seeing.
And you know what’s funny?
By the time the streak ended, by the time Mark Buehrle finally wasn’t perfect anymore, he had us so convinced that he was supposed to retire every batter he faced.
A walk? Alexi Casilla? You’ve got to be kidding.
And now a hit? It can’t be.
That’s fine. Mark Buehrle has his record.
Not only that, but he turned it into a record well worth having. Next time somebody asks which pitcher holds the record for most consecutive batters retired, we might even get the answer right.