TORONTO – Mark Buehrle used the words “weird” and “crazy” to describe facing a White Sox team he was a member of for 12 memorable seasons.
Those words also fit the latest misfortunes of the Sox, who failed to deliver a knockout punch and fell to Buehrle and the Blue Jays 4-3 for their sixth loss in seven games on their 10-game trip.
As he did for most of his 161 wins with the Sox from 2000 to 2011, Buehrle relied on his crafty pitching to work out of jams. His signature moment occurred with two outs in the fifth inning when he struck out longtime friend Paul Konerko on a full count with two runners on base.
Konerko had hit an RBI single and lined to left in his first two at-bats, but wasn’t too happy about a 2-1 pitch on the outside corner that was called a strike by plate umpire Tony Randazzo.
“I had the at-bat I wanted to have,” Konerko said. “I had a 2-1 pitch that was ... whatever. So sometimes you’ve got two choices. You stand up there and strike out looking, or you swing the bat on a pitch you don’t want to swing at or don’t have to. That’s the moral of the story.”
Buehrle told reporters: “Obviously you don’t want to screw around there with runners on, and if something bad happens, it won’t look good. I just kind of said to myself, ‘Don’t make eye contact with [Konerko], whether there’s nobody on base or its bases loaded.’
“I obviously know how good of a hitter he is,” Buehrle continued. “You have to make some pitches there, so you have to keep the ball down on him.”
Konerko admitted to feeling uncomfortable facing a friend and former teammate.
“I didn’t have much fun with it, and I don’t think he did, either,” Konerko said.
Buehrle said he tried not to look at his former teammates stepping into the batter’s box “because I knew I’d start laughing or something bad would happen. I just tried to focus on the glove, which is not me. Usually, I’m out looking around and having fun.”
Buehrle got the last laugh, from jamming Sox hitters with his 86-mph fastball to nailing Sox newcomer Tyler Greene for his 90th career pickoff.
“He used our aggressiveness at times,” Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He hit spots, took a little off, added a little on. Guys like him can pitch at this level because they’re smart and don’t have to throw 95 mph to get people out. It’s something I know White Sox fans have seen forever, but it was a clinic.
“You can sit there and say ‘patient’ all you want, but he’s a guy who senses when you’re patient and throws a fastball in there that you think you should hit. That’s when it gets frustrating as a hitter.”
Blue Jays 4, White Sox 3
Up next: White Sox at Blue Jays, 6 p.m. today
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