Daily Dose: Perfection for Buehrle

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Less than two weeks after Jonathan Sanchez’s no-hitter versus San
Diego, Mark Buehrle did him one better with a perfect game against
Tampa Bay on Thursday. Buehrle, who also hurled a no-hitter in 2007, is
now the 24th pitcher with multiple no-nos. He needed help from
defensive replacement DeWayne Wise, who made a spectacular,
homer-robbing catch on Gabe Kapler leading off the ninth inning.

Buehrle’s perfect game was the 16th in baseball history and the
first since Randy Johnson in 2004, and he joins Johnson, Cy Young,
Sandy Koufax, Jim Bunning, and Addie Joss as the six pitchers with a
perfect game and a standard no-hitter. Interestingly, Johnson is
obviously bound for the Hall of Fame five years after he retires and
Young, Koufax, Bunning, and Joss are all in Cooperstown.

As a 30-year-old with 133 career wins, a 3.76 ERA, and just one
top-five finish in the Cy Young balloting Buehrle has a long way to go
before he’s even a marginal Hall of Fame candidate, but that’s some
amazing company. Oh, the world’s most famous White Sox fan, president
Barack Obama, even called to congratulate him after the game.

While the White Sox use his historic afternoon to jump into a tie
for first place in the AL Central, here are some other notes from
around baseball …

* With their bullpen ranked third-worst in the league with a 4.86
ERA and Manny Corpas headed for elbow surgery the Rockies added a pair
of new right-handed relievers Thursday. Rafael Betancourt will work in
a setup role after coming over from the Indians in exchange for
mid-level prospect Connor Graham and in a far more surprising move
he’ll be joined by 21-year-old top prospect Jhoulys Chacin.

Chacin led the minors in wins last season while going 18-3 with a
2.03 ERA in 28 starts between two levels of Single-A and has been very
solid while moving up to Double-A this year, but asking him to skip
right past Triple-A and face big-league hitters in an unfamiliar role
at the age of 21 seems like an odd decision even with the Rockies
holding a small Wild Card lead. Long term, he’s a No. 2 starter.

* Houston is 13-6 in July, but if the Astros are going to continue
their second-half surge it’ll have to come without Lance Berkman, who
was put on the disabled list Thursday with a strained left calf.
Berkman has been out of the starting lineup for five of the past six
games, but general manager Ed Wade suggested that he may have been able
to play through the injury “if we were in late September.”

* Jose Guillen has been put on the disabled list with a Grade 2 tear
of the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee, suffered
Wednesday while he was putting on a shin guard before an at-bat.
Seriously. He went to the hospital after hearing a “pop” and
complaining of “sudden right leg pain,” and is now facing an extended
stint on the sidelines that ends whatever chance the Royals had of
trading him.

AL Quick Hits: Jarrod Washburn has given up a total of two runs
in his last four starts after tossing seven shutout innings Thursday …
Rumors of St. Louis being after Matt Holliday are picking up steam …
Juan Rivera (hamstring) could rejoin the lineup this weekend after an
MRI exam showed no major damage … General manager J.P. Ricciardi said
Thursday that Roy Halladay isn’t interesting in inking extension with
the Blue Jays … Brian Anderson has requested a trade from the White
Sox, who’d deal him if they could … Glen Perkins isn’t expected to miss
a start despite being diagnosed with shoulder tendinitis … Several
sources report that the Angels are interested in Scott Kazmir, who was
on the losing end of the perfect game … Meanwhile, the Rays are
reportedly talking to the Indians about Cliff Lee … Bartolo Colon came
off the disabled list Thursday and will rejoin the rotation … Alex Rios
swiped three bases Thursday, giving him 18 on the year.

NL Quick Hits: Dan Haren allowed more than three runs Thursday
for the second time this season … Mike Gonzalez exited Thursday’s game
after being hit on the forearm by a comebacker, but X-rays were
negative … Adam Wainwright’s sixth straight Quality Start was a
rain-shortened complete-game win Thursday … Kelly Johnson came off the
disabled list Thursday after batting .308 in a dozen rehab games, but
Martin Prado has surpassed him at second base … Ryan Dempster could
return as soon as this weekend after X-rays showed “excellent healing”
in his broken toe … Scott Olsen should be ready for spring training
after no further damage was found during his labrum surgery Thursday …
Albert Pujols received a routine day off Thursday, with Mark DeRosa
filling in at first base … Barry Zito allowed one run on three hits in
seven innings Thursday for his third Quality Start in four tries.

Report: Braves extend Kurt Suzuki

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Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.

Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.

It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.

“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”

Mikie Mahtook is likely done for the season

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Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.

This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.

With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.