New team, same results for Mark Buehrle against the Minnesota Twins.
The longtime White Sox pitcher faced a familiar Twins team Friday, although he was wearing a Toronto Blue Jays uniform. No matter who Buehrle is pitching for, he has Minnesota’s number. That was the case again Friday as he pitched seven scoreless innings to help the Blue Jays blank the Twins in a 4-0 win in Toronto.
Buehrle spent the first 12 years of his career with the White Sox. He then pitched for Miami in 2012 but did not face the Twins a year ago. Heading into Friday’s game, Buehrle had a career 27-19 record and a 3.75 ERA against the Twins during his time with the AL Central foes. Friday marked his 52nd career game (50th start) against Minnesota, which is now the most against any team in baseball.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Buehrle has now pitched 35 2/3 consecutive innings without an earned run against Minnesota. In his last five starts, the Twins have batted .160 against him as he’s posted a 0.24 ERA and a 3-1 record.
As he usually does, Buehrle worked with a quick pace on the mound. He wiggled out of trouble in the first inning when Minnesota had runners on second and third and just one out. Second baseman Brian Dozier led off the game with a base hit, and Ryan Doumit followed with a one-out single before advancing to second on the throw.
Given the chance to jump on Buehrle in the first inning, the Twins failed to do so. Justin Morneau struck out looking at strike three and Trevor Plouffe went down swinging as Buehrle escaped the first inning without a run.
“When he gets on a roll like that, is painting the corners the game just really goes quick on you,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. “You don’t get many opportunities. We had a couple and missed them. That’s kind of the message we have here. It seems like the air goes out of us a little bit too quick.”
That was the closest the Twins got to scoring on Buehrle, who went seven scoreless innings and allowed six hits — five singles. He pitched a 1-2-3 second inning and worked around a one-out double in the third. Minnesota again had two runners on with two outs in the fourth but left both men on base.
Buehrle exited after seven innings and 101 pitches as his team led 4-0 thanks to three runs in the fourth. He didn’t walk a batter — just the second time this year he’s done so — and struck out five Twins batters.
“He was throwing a lot of strikes and getting ahead and then making his pitches,” said Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista, who homered and had three hits in Toronto’s 4-0 win. “He expanded the zone a little bit after he was ahead in the count. He kept working both sides of the plate with his changeup away and the cutter inside and he kept everybody off balance.”
Gardenhire said his team wasn’t able to mentally overcome the missed opportunities in the first inning and let it linger the rest of the game against Buehrle. It certainly wasn’t the first time the left-hander has frustrated the Twins.
“We’ve got to relax a little bit,” Gardenhire said. “There’s too much tension in our dugout. I told the boys, this is baseball. We’re making it like a job right now. It’s got to be baseball. That was the message to our team tonight.”
FOX Sports North’s Kevin Gorg contributed to this report.