Chicago White Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle became only the third opponent to ever throw a no-hitter against the Rangers when he limited them to just one walk in a 6-0 victory before 28,289 at U.S. Cellular Field on Wednesday night.
Buehrle, pitching with a game-time temperature of 40 degrees, allowed just one baserunner. He walked Sammy Sosa with one out in the fifth and then picked him off first base.
"Everything was working for him," Sosa said. "He even got me at first base. When that happens, everything is going your way. He was in command."
The Rangers came into the game hitting .234, the fourth-lowest average in the American League. This is a team that is accustomed to being in the top four in the league in hitting, and they were coming off an 8-1 victory over the White Sox on Tuesday night.
Manager Ron Washington thought Tuesday's victory was a good sign that the Rangers were starting to get it together offensively. Buehrle proved that wasn't the case.
"It's indescribable," Washington said. "I thought we were going to bust out after last night, but it didn't happen. We ran into Mark Buehrle."
There have been two other no-hitters thrown against the Rangers in club history. Jim Colborn of the Kansas City Royals threw the first on May 14, 1977, at Kauffman Stadium and Mike Witt of the Angels threw a perfect game against them on the final day of the 1984 season.
"I was more nervous after the eighth," Buehrle said. "In the ninth, the crowd was going crazy. I could feel it in my knees a little. I definitely had extra adrenaline then."
When it was over, the Rangers' team batting average had dropped to .221. Ian Kinsler, who is hitting .333, was the only hitter who played Wednesday with a batting average above .250. Mark Teixeira is hitting .204 and there are three below him: Sosa (.196), Michael Young (.175) and Gerald Laird (.132).
"Good team, bad team, it didn't matter who he was going to be facing," Teixeira said. "He was going to pitch well. I mean he pitched great. I'd rather get no-hit by a guy with great stuff than lose 7-6 to a guy who we should have scored 10 runs on. Buehrle had great stuff."
Rangers starter Kevin Millwood has thrown a no-hitter in his career, too, but he had no chance against Buehrle on Tuesday. Jim Thome hit two home runs off him and Jermaine Dye broke the game open with a grand slam in the fifth inning.
After that, the pressure was squarely on Buehrle, who had already survived several near misses.
Hank Blalock ended the second inning with a long drive to deep right field that Dye caught with his glove at the top of the wall.
Jerry Hairston followed with a sharp grounder down the third-base line that third baseman Joe Crede stopped with a tremendous diving play. He then made a strong throw to first base that appeared to just beat Hairston, who went diving into the bag.
Hairston thought he was safe and said something to first base umpire James Hoye. Then he went to the dugout and threw his helmet, which got him thrown out of the game.
"I thought I was safe," Hairston said. "But I don't want to take away from Buehrle. He just threw a no-hitter."
It would have been a perfect game but Buehrle walked Sosa with one out in the fifth. He then picked Sosa off first.
That might have saved the no-hitter. Blalock followed with a sharper grounder toward the right-side hole and White Sox second baseman Tadahito Iguchi made a terrific diving stop to take away a single.
"Buehrle was on and they made some nice defensive plays behind him," Blalock said. "You have to tip your cap to them because they made the plays defensively."
Washington said if Sosa doesn't get picked off, then Iguchi has to play closer to second base and doesn't get to Blalock's grounder.
"It would have been a base hit, yes," Washington said. "But I don't know if he would have gotten that same pitch down and in."
That was really the last close call. Buehrle rolled through the Rangers the rest of the way. He finished with eight strikeouts and it all came down to getting Laird on a grounder to Crede to bring it to an end.
"I know Crede is a good defensive player," Buehrle said. "I started pumping my fist. I just kept saying, 'Oh my God.' I never thought in a million years that I would throw a no-hitter. It hasn't sunk in."