KANSAS CITY, MO - JULY 18: Starting pitcher Mark Buehrle #56 of the Chicago White Sox wipes his brow as he walks off the mound at the end of the 5th inning of the game against the Kansas City Royals on July 18, 2011 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) R:\Merlin\Getty_Photos\119336654.jpg
Updated: October 25, 2011 12:30AM
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There is plenty to like about the way Mark Buehrle pitches. He works fast, gets ahead in the count, fields his position as well as any pitcher and is remarkably consistent.
In the White Sox’ 5-2 win against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium on Monday night, Buehrle had a perfect score in a major point of emphasis for Sox pitchers: Putting a zero on the scoreboard after the Sox score.
The Sox scored one in the first on Juan Pierre’s leadoff single and Alexei Ramirez’s sacrifice fly, one in the third on Paul Konerko’s RBI double and two unearned runs in the sixth on a Mark Teahen RBI ground out and a Pierre RBI single.
Buehrle (7-5) pitched a scoreless inning after each, twice taking the Royals down in 1-2-3 fashion. Perhaps it was his way of saying thanks for the support. After all, Buehrle went into the game with a 2.73 ERA over his previous five starts but hadn’t won, in part because of nine runs of support.
“Buehrle . . . he’s so consistent in his career,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “This guy is so durable, it’s unbelievable. He’s doing it day after day after day. Every time he’s on the mound, he gives the team a good chance to compete. He’s going to give you the best he’s got and I don’t see any change since I got here.”
The 32-year-old left-hander departed with a 5-2 lead after seven innings and 111 pitches on a night when the game-time temperature was 95 degrees. In the bullpen where he warmed up before the game, a thermometer showed 115.
“It’s huge, obviously, it’s big,” Buehrle said of shutting out the opponent after the Sox score, “because you want to keep the momentum going. That’s a big goal as a starting pitcher.”
It was a vintage Buehrle start — two runs and five hits with three strikeouts and one walk. He hit one batter. Going for his 22nd career victory against the Royals against 11 losses, he was 0-2 with a 6.57 ERA in his last three starts in Kansas City. Just a blip on the radar screen as far as Guillen is concerned.
“Obviously, I’ve seen a lot of innings. I don’t see any type of work or different look when he’s out there,” Guillen said. “I think this kid, when he’s out there, he gives the club a good chance. We have to be ready for defense because the ball is going to be put in play. It’s nice to see this kid when he’s on the mound. He goes out there and does his job.”
Jesse Crain did his as well, pitching a perfect eighth, and Matt Thornton and Sergio Santos, both pitching for the first time in eight days, sent the Royals down in order in the ninth.
In 52/3 innings, Royals right-hander Kyle Davies (1-9) struck out a career-high nine batters, thanks in part to plate umpire C.B. Bucknor’s wide strike zone — of which Buehrle was also a benefactor.
As the season winds down, the question is whether Buehrle, who was drafted by the Sox, will be re-signed when his contract is up.
“I wish I had the money and power to answer that question,” Guillen said. “Everyone knows how people feel about Mark Buehrle here in Chicago. I keep saying he’s one of my favorite players off the field and on the field. Do we want to see him in Chicago? Of course we do. But the plans out there, I cannot make any yes or no. Do I want him? Yes. Does Kenny want him? Yes. But we don’t talk about money, years. All kinds of stuff goes through it. I don’t know if we keep him. If we keep him, fine. If we don’t, that’s part of the game. I wish it was in my hands, but it’s not in my hands.”