Saturday, July 24, 2010
Updated 12:45 AM
By Brett Ballantini
OAKLAND Its a stretch of the schedule Chicago needs to fatten up on, and with wins in three of the first four, the White Sox are starting to look a little chubby in the win column.
Mark Buehrle celebrated the one-year anniversary of his perfect game with another masterful effort, defeating the As 5-1 in front of a sparse Friday night crowd in Oakland.
Everything was down in the zone, sinkers were working, Buehrle said. When things are working like that. You get ahead in the count. They were swinging early, and I dont know if that was their game plan, but when they were swinging early, the ball was down and they were hitting ground balls.
Mark pitched good, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. He made those guys swing the bat, and we played good defense behind him.
Buehrle took just 101 pitches to compose a complete game that was scarred by just four hits and one earned run. It was the third time in Buehrles career hes thrown back-to-back complete games, also having achieved the feat in 2001 and 2004, as well as his first career win in Oakland.
I expected a beer shower when the game was over, Buehrle said of his first Oakland win in his 11 seasons.
The first three White Sox runs were driven in without the courtesy of a hit, as in the third Carlos Quentin drove a deep sacrifice fly to bring home Alex Rios, and in the sixth Juan Pierre scored on an Rios grounder played into an error by As shortstop Cliff Pennington and Omar Vizquel came home when Quentin tapped out to As pitcher Trevor Cahill.
A.J. Pierzynski provided more traditional run support in the top of the ninth, tapping out a two-run single to extend the White Sox lead to 5-1.
As the top of the ninth was an extended frame, it worried Guillen. But because his thinking was that the skipper could steal a complete game and gift his pen with another days rest, I talked to Mark after the long ninth inning, and he was fine to come back.
In the end, the White Sox extended their first-place lead to 2.5 games over the rained-out Detroit Tigers and three over the Minnesota Twins, who lost to the Baltimore Orioles. Little of that matters to the Sox jefe, however.
Dont worry about what you did yesterday, Guillen said of his teams second strong bounce-back this week. Its a new game. We dont take anything for granted. If you have a good game or a bad game today, it doesnt mean anything tomorrow. Were very good about believing in that.
Buehrle, as he usually does, succeeded in not just delivering a win, but restoring some cheer to the team.
This was one of those games that was fun, he said. Balls werent finding holes and I was making pitches and getting ahead in the count. As a starter youre going to have a certain amount of good ones and bad ones throughout the year, and I had all my bad ones at the start of the year. Im due to go on a little streak of good ones. The whole starting staff is on a good roll; lets keep it going.
And then, in a nod to how much fun it is to pitch when the team performs as well as it has for nearly two months now, Buehrle offered up a tantalizer sure to fire up Sox fans of all ilks.
If I keep pitching like this, I might not be able to retire.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.