Not only will Chris Sale go for an MLB record Monday night, he’ll do so while squaring off against South Side favorite and 2005 World Series champion Mark Buehrle.
Robin Ventura & Co. Sale an extra day of rest — he was originally scheduled to start Sunday's series finale against Baltimore — and, as an unintended consequence, set up a showdown between the current and former White Sox aces (7 p.m., Comcast SportsNet).
“It should be fun,” Ventura said. “It should be fast, too.”
Only a handful of current White Sox players played with Buehrle during his decorated 12-year tenure at U.S. Cellular Field. Among them is John Danks, who debuted in 2007 and witnessed Buehrle throw a no-hitter and a perfect game, as well as the first of his four consecutive gold glove awards (2009-2012).
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While Danks is close with Buehrle, he wasn’t exactly wishing him well when the 36-year-old takes the mound at 35th and Shields on Monday.
“I hope we beat up on Mark and get a win,” Danks laughed. “(He and Sale) are two of my best friends in the world so it’d be good to see Mark, but really once the game starts I hope we are able to beat up on him and get a win.”
Even with a fastball averaging just under 84 miles per hour — down about three miles per hour from 2005, when he won 16 games and a World Series ring — Buehrle’s ERA sits at a solid 3.64 and he leads the American League with three complete games. He’s one win away from having at least 10 for the 15th consecutive season, and needs to throw 93 2/3 innings over 14 more starts to reach the 200-inning, 30-start marks he’s had every year since 2001.
“(All those) years in a row of the 200, 30 and 10, he’s a Hall of Famer in my book,” Danks said. “I’m a little biased. But it’d be good to see him. Just hope he doesn’t throw real well against us.”
Over his dozen years with the White Sox, Buehrle won 161 games with a 3.83 ERA, made four All-Star Games and won three Gold Gloves. He didn’t do it in a flashy fashion like Sale, who with 10 or more strikeouts against Toronto would become the first pitcher in baseball history to have double-digit strikeouts in nine consecutive starts during a season.
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Buehrle was effective in other ways, though, by spotting his pitches well, changing speeds and working fast.
“Love the guy,” pitching coach Don Cooper, who worked with Buehrle from 2002-2011, said. “He made me a world champion.
“… When you see a guy go 200 innings for four, five years, let alone 15, you are a stallion, you are a stud no matter what style you are. As a pitching coach, as a manager, when you know you can pencil a guy in there for six to seven innings every start and at the end of the year you’re getting 200, that’s such a valuable commodity knowing that spot is more than locked down.”
“… But our guy (Sale), he’s really, really good, really talented, probably the most talented guy I’ve had, thinking back on it. And he’s got four years under his belt and he’s got some time to go to reach where Buehrle is.”