The White Sox past and present aces will face off tonight when Mark Buehrle returns to U.S. Cellular Field to face Chris Sale, who with 10 or more strikeouts would become the first pitcher in major league history to have double-digit strikeouts in nine consecutive starts in a single season.
While Sale's making a name for himself in his fourth year atop the White Sox rotation, Buehrle's 12 years on the South Side saw him reach three All-Star Games, win three Gold Gloves and win 161 games with a 3.83 ERA. He's won at least 10 games, made at least 30 starts and thrown at least 200 innings every year from 2001-2014 and is on pace to eclipse those totals again in 2015 with Toronto.
Buehrle had a lot of highlights during his time with the White Sox, plenty of which came at U.S. Cellular Field. But these five starts at 35th and Shields stand out:
5. April 4, 2005 vs. Cleveland
The White Sox bookended their 2005 season with 1-0 wins (the latter came in Game 4 of the World Series) thanks to Buehrle's mastery of Cleveland on Opening Day. He fired eight shutout innings, allowing just two hits and one walk to out-duel Indians right-hander Jake Westbrook, with Jhonny Peralta's seventh-inning error scoring Paul Konerko and providing all the support Buehrle needed.
Final line: 8 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K. Time of game: 1:51.
4. Aug. 3, 2001 vs. Tampa Bay
Buehrle's second career shutout turned out to be a preview of an afternoon eight years later. Buehrle hit Steve Cox to lead off the sixth to end his perfect game bid, and Damian Rolls broke up his no-hit bid with a single to lead off the top of the seventh. But those were the only baserunners the Devil Rays had off the soft-tossing lefty, who finished with a one-hit shutout in a 4-0 win that saw Konerko and Jose Canseco hit two-run home runs.
Final line: 9 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K. Time of game: 2:12
3. April 16, 2005 vs. Seattle
Buehrle didn't get a shutout thanks to Ichiro's leadoff triple in the ninth and Adrian Beltre's ensuing RBI groundout, but he set a career high with 12 strikeouts over his nine innings of work. What made this game special, though, is how quickly it went. Since 2000, it's the only game to last less than 100 minutes, clocking in at 1:39. The last time a game took less than 100 minutes to play before this April afternoon was Sept. 30, 1984.
Final line: 9 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 12 K. Time of game: 1:39
2. April 18, 2007 vs. Texas
Buehrle's first no-hitter almost feels overshadowed, given it came in a dismal 2007 season and he threw a perfect game two years later. But this was a nonetheless a historic start on a chilly night at U.S. Cellular Field, with Buehrle's only blemish a fifth-inning walk to Sammy Sosa. His final six outs encapsulate his dominance: Strikeout looking, popout, groundout, strikeout looking, strikeout swinging, groundout.
Final line: 9 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K. Time of game: 2:03
1. July 23, 2009 vs. Tampa Bay
Buehrle's perfect game stands as one of the best games in White Sox history, with Dewayne Wise's leaping catch to take a home run away from Gabe Kapler the exclamation point on his flawless afternoon. Josh Fields' second-inning grand slam spotted him an early lead and Buehrle carved up the Rays' lineup from there, making an opposing lineup a year removed from a World Series berth look futile. This is the game that'll still be talked about long after Buehrle's career is over.
Final line: 9 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K. Time of game: 2:03
Statistics and game data via Baseball Reference's Play Index