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Alex Remington

Mark Buehrle hasn't been perfect, but he's not alone

Big League Stew

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Ever since Mark Buehrle(notes) unleashed a perfect game against the Rays on July 23 and then posted zeros for another 17 Twins batters on July 28, he's been a shell of his former perfect self.

How imperfect has Buehrle been? On Friday, the White Sox lefty gave up two solo homers in six innings against the Yankees and it still qualified as his best start in weeks. In seven starts since tasting perfection, he is 0-3 with a 5.77 ERA and his opponents have eight homers with a .940 OPS. He struck out six men in the nine innings of his perfect game; he's only struck out 13 in 43 2/3 innings since then.

He's been pretty close to disastrous and nowhere near the pitcher the White Sox needed him to be down the stretch. Of the 11 regular season perfect pitchers over the last 75 years, Buehrle has sealed the record for worst ERA over the seven appearances following a perfect game.

But Buehrle isn't exactly alone in failing to keep up with the giant expectations a perfect game can create. In fact, three of the last four perfectionists had an ERA over 4.00 in the seven games following. Randy Johnson(notes) had a 4.06 ERA en route to a second-place finish in the 2004 Cy Young Race, David Cone managed an unimpressive 4.42 ERA as he stumbled his way to the close of his last effective full season and Kenny Rogers(notes) coughed up 12 runs in his final 10 1/3 innings before the 1994 strike.

Even worse was Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter, who twirled a gem on May 8, 1968 during the Year of the Pitcher and then somehow managed to give up 12 homers while posting an unsightly 5.16 ERA in his next seven starts, despite playing his home games in Oakland.

The class of the crop is, unsurprisingly, Sandy Koufax, who had a 1.40 ERA including a save in the seven games following perfection in 1965, which also happened to be his last seven appearances of the season, a stretch run that helped the Dodgers win the National League by two games and then beat the Twins in the World Series.

There are only two other pitchers to post an ERA under 3.00 for his next seven appearances. Hall of Famer Jim Bunning had a 2.42 ERA as his 1964 Phillies finished a game behind the Cardinals. Meanwhile, David Wells(notes) posted a 2.94 ERA in 1998 en route to the second All-Star game of his career and a title with the Yankees.

Buehrle's in pretty good company with his struggles, though he has the misfortune to be struggling more than most. He'll wind up alright, though his next opportunity might not be the best. On Wednesday, he'll make his last-ever start in the Metrodome, where he's 0-2 with a 12.10 ERA in 2009 and 10-9 with a 4.75 ERA over his career.

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