It was like old times for Mark Buehrle at U.S. Cellular Field.
A familar drive to the ballpark. Eight innings of work, no earned runs allowed. All in a snappy one hour, 54 minute game.
And lots of love from White Sox fans.
“Yeah, I’d be lying to say it wasn’t getting me a little more amped up than I should have been,’’ Buehrle said after the White Sox rallied with three unearned runs in the eighth inning to to defeat Buehrle and the Jays 4-2 on Monday night. “Running out to the bullpen, they’re kind of cheering and coming in. Throughout the game, it was just special. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t. Outstanding feeling. Just came out on the wrong end for us.’’
Buehrle had taken a comebacker off the bat of Carlos Sanchez in the fifth inning that caromed off his right ankle. Third baseman Josh Donaldson finished the play off with a slick barehand catch and throw, but a knot began to grow on the ankle, and precautionary X-Rays were taken after the game.
“It got me pretty good,’’ Buehrle said. “I’m sure it’ll be a little sore the next couple days, but I’ll be fine.’’
An error by shortstop Jose Reyes started the Sox’ three-run eighth, helping Chris Sale to collect his seventh win. The Sox had scored an unearned run in the fourth, and Melky Cabrera’s two-run double with two outs scored the go-ahead runs.
“I made a bad pitch on Melky and he hit it down the line,’’ said Buehrle, who fell to 9-5 while lowering his ERA to a tidy 3.38. “Those were the two runs that cost us. I felt good and I was hoping to get out of that inning and go back out for the ninth.’’
Buehrle loved Chicago and Chicago loved him, and this day was a reminder of how it was pitching the first 12 years of his career on the South Side.
“Yeah, I’m staying out in the same subdvision that I was at when I was here, making the same drive,’’ he said. “Stopped over at Portillos and had some lunch today. Just kind of doing the same thing. Yeah, it’s hard not to feel like you’re home. You play somewhere for so long, it definitely feels like it.’’
Everyone seems to like a fast game, even Buehrle. He’d like someone to do him a solid, though, and work fast when he’s in the dugout.
“Everybody enjoys fast games when I’m pitching but I want to enjoy a fast game when I’m watching,’’ he said.
Whether this was Buehrle’s last game at U.S. Cellular Field remains to be seen. He’s in the last year of his contract he signed after the Sox decided to let him go to the Marlins in free agency after the 2011 season. That was a decision Sox mourn. Turns out, Buehrle had three seasons of 200-plus innings with ERAs of 3.74, 4.39 and 3.39 left, plus this one that is on pace for more of the same.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen after this year,” he said. “They didn’t want me back four years ago so who’s going to say they’re going to want me back now, four years older.”
Buehrle said he would love nothing more than to sneak away and make an appearance at the 2005 Sox reunion at U.S. Cellular Field the weekend of July 16. But that can’t happen.
“It’s unfortunate I can’t get back for it,’’ he said, “but I won’t be here.
“Of course. I was hoping it would be on … an offday for us, or maybe even the series where I could attend it. But the timing of it doesn’t work.’’