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.

Angels’ Andrelton Simmons opts out of final 5 games

Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shortstop Andrelton Simmons has opted out of the remainder of the Los Angeles Angels’ season.

The Angels announced the four-time Gold Glove-winning shortstop’s decision Tuesday before they faced the San Diego Padres.

Los Angeles (24-31) is still technically in the playoff race with five games left in the regular season, and Simmons clearly caught the Angels by surprise, although the club said it respected his decision.

The 31-year-old Simmons, who can be a free agent this winter, is finishing his fifth year with the Angels. After spraining his ankle in late July and missing 22 games, Simmons is currently batting .297 with 10 RBIs while playing his usual stellar defense, albeit with four errors in 30 games.

“At this time, I feel this is the best decision for me and my family,” Simmons said in a statement. “We don’t know what the future holds, but we would like to sincerely thank the Angels organization and Angels fans for welcoming and making us feel at home.”

Manager Joe Maddon acknowledged he was caught by surprise when general manager Billy Eppler told him about Simmons’ decision Monday night after Simmons went 1 for 4 with an RBI single in the Angels’ home finale. Maddon texted Simmons, but hadn’t heard back by Tuesday afternoon.

“I’ve really enjoyed this guy a lot,” Maddon said. “I’m a big fan. This guy is a good baseball player, and I’ve enjoyed the conversations, too. It’s just unfortunate. He’s really a big part of what we’re doing right now.”

Simmons is a favorite of Angels fans for his defensive wizardry, and owner Arte Moreno has described Simmons as perhaps his favorite player to watch on the roster. Simmons has batted .281 with 36 homers and 281 RBIs during his five seasons with Los Angeles, and he won the Gold Glove in 2017 and 2018.

“He’s a thinking kind of a player, and I’ve enjoyed him a lot,” Maddon said.

Simmons will be a free agent this winter, and the Angels have an obvious replacement for him in David Fletcher, who has a .374 on-base percentage while regularly hitting leadoff for the Angels during his breakout major league season. Fletcher has been playing second base since Simmons’ return from injury.

But the Angels haven’t publicly closed the door on Simmons’ return, and he could be given a qualifying offer. Maddon has repeatedly said he would like Simmons to return in 2021 if possible.

The Angels haven’t had a winning season during Simmons’ five years in Anaheim, although Simmons said last week he wasn’t discouraged by the lack of team success. Simmons played his first four major league seasons in Atlanta, and he hasn’t appeared in the postseason since 2013.

Simmons also said he hadn’t been involved in any recent contract talks with the Angels, but he had enjoyed playing for the club. When asked if he wanted to return to the Halos, Simmons said he would have to “plead the fifth.”