After first road win, White Sox set to battle ex-mate Buehrle
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org April 14, 2013 10:12PM
Updated: April 14, 2013 10:50PM
CLEVELAND — The White Sox will face Mark Buehrle on Monday night in Toronto for the first time since he left the team as a free agent after the 2011 season. For Paul Konerko, the at-bats will feel strange for “one of the best teammates I’ve ever had.’’
“I’m sure he’ll make it humorous,’’ Konerko said. “You got to be ready. He might throw an eephus pitch or something like that. He’s not afraid to screw around out there.
“I know Mark. He’ll have fun with it. It will be tough to keep a straight face for, I’m sure, a pitch or two.’’
The Sox can stand a laugh or two after a 1-5 start to their road trip. They cheered up a bit with a 3-1 victory Sunday, winning on the road for the first time behind Jake Peavy’s 11-strikeout performance over seven innings and Konerko’s two-out, two-run homer against Brett Myers — like Buehrle, a former teammate but not nearly as revered or loved as the affable lefty.
Konerko said he knows Buehrle still has feelings for the Sox, for whom he pitched 12 seasons and was a fan favorite.
The “business side of the game,” as Konerko put it, severed their tie. Buehrle went with former manager Ozzie Guillen to the Marlins, then was traded to Toronto on Nov. 19.
Buehrle hasn’t lasted more than 51/3 innings in two starts, allowing six earned runs against Cleveland and five against Detroit. The Jays won both games, however.
“Knowing Buehrle, I’m sure he’s going to make a lot of the situation as he always does in any big moment,’’ Peavy said. “I know he’s gotten off to a little bit of a slow start, so I’m sure he’ll be ready to go and will give a good effort as Buehrle always does.’’
Alejandro De Aza hit his third homer of the season leading off the eighth inning against Vinnie Pestano to make it 3-1 and give the Sox breathing room.
Konerko’s homer allowed a tight and frustrated team to exhale after the Sox had put the leadoff man on base four straight times without scoring. In the sixth, Jeff Keppinger reached on an infield error but was wiped out by Alex Rios’ double-play ground ball. After Adam Dunn walked, Konerko hit a 3-1 pitch from Myers into the left-field seats.
“It was good today to do something that actually mattered within the game,’’ Konerko said.
Keppinger and Rios singled to open the fourth inning, putting runners on first and second with no outs. But Dunn struck out, Konerko flied out to right and Dayan Viciedo flied to short left to kill the inning.
Addison Reed pitched a scoreless ninth for his fourth save in as many chances, sending the Sox off to see Buehrle on a happy note.
“With Mark, he was like one of the position players there every day,’’ Konerko said.
“We all love Mark Buehrle,’’ Peavy said, “but tomorrow night, we got to go out and get him and hang out with him afterward. Hopefully after a White Sox win.”