Mark Buehrle, the All-Star and Gold Glove pitcher for the White Sox who baffled the Rays with a perfect game last July, used the leather on Monday in twirling seven innings of three-hit, shutout ball in the season opener against the Indians.
In the fifth inning, young Cleveland catcher Lou Marson hit a hard ground ball back up the middle against Buehrle. In an attempt to knock it down, the left-hander kicked his left leg in the ball’s direction, deflecting it with his shin way off to his left, toward the first-base line.
But instead of conceding an infield hit, Buehrle gave chase and took off after the ball with every ounce of energy the 31-year-old could muster. He crossed just in front of the charging Marson as he rumbled down the line and reached the ball several feet into foul territory.
Next, as the Chicago Sun-Times’ Rick Morrissey describes, “When he arrived at the intersection of Forget It and Dude, You Have No Chance, Buehrle scooped up the ball with his glove and, without looking, flipped it in one motion between his legs to first baseman Paul Konerko, who caught it barehanded.”
Marson was out by half a step.
How did Buehrle pull off the remarkably acrobatic maneuver to get the out?
No idea, he admitted. “Everything went blank” when he got halfway to the ball, he told the Sun-Times.
“It’s one where you see the play happening, you run over there and say, ‘Do I slide and spin, do I just grab the ball and throw it?’” Buehrle said. “Every thought went through my head but that one. You could have asked me if I had thrown it between my legs when it happened, and I wouldn’t even have known it.”
Asked about the play after the 6-0 win, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen called it “one of the best I ever seen.”
I’m not sure I’d rank it ahead of Ozzie Smith‘s stab and throw (seven seconds in), Kevin Mitchell‘s barehanded snag of a fly ball in left or even DeWayne Wise‘s catch last summer to maintain Buehrle’s perfecto. But it’s pretty amazing for Opening Day.