Mark Buehrle left the bullpen in left-centre half an hour before Sunday afternoon’s start there will be a smattering of applause.
We spotted blue-clad Blue Jays fans who have travelled here from Tillsonburg and Markham to see Their Blue Jays.
It will be unlike the time the lefty headed for the Minute Maid Park mound wearing a Chicago White Sox in the 14th inning of Game 3 of 2005 World Series.
“Running in I looked and there were two sections cheering one down low (White Sox wives and family) and another higher up (front office staff, they were cheering like crazy,” said Buehrle.
Manager Ozzie Guillen signalled for his Game 2 starter, who chugged in with the game on the line: his White Sox were up by two, the Astros had two runners to face Adam Everett.
Catcher Chris Widger called a cutter on a 1-1 pitch to Everett.
“I was saying to myself with that short porch in left, ‘get the ball inside, keep it low,’” Buehrle said.
Everett popped up to shortstop Juan Uribe and the White Sox had a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Buehrle will try and right the Blue Jays rotation, which entered Saturday night’s game tied with the Boston Red Sox as the second worst in the majors with a team ERA of 5.34.
Jon Garland started Game 3 and left with a 5-4 lead after seven innings. Guillen then used for an inning or less Cliff Politte, Neal Cotts, Dustin Hermanson, who gave up the tying run in the eighth, Orlando Hernandez andLuis Vizcaino. Bobby Jenks pitched two innings and then Damaso Martetook over.
Buehrle got gone to pitching coach Don Cooper in the eighth and told him he was ready since it was his bullpen day.
Cooper said no, Buehrle would not be needed.
“Finally about the fourth time he said ‘get ready, go to the pen,’” Buehrle said. “I thought it was more of a get the heck out of my face move.”
Buehrle headed to the clubhouse, rubbed “hot stuff” on his arm, put on his uniform top, cleats and ran out to left centre.
Pinch hitter Geoff Blum broke the tie with a two-out homer in the 14th and the White Sox added another run.
Buehrle still didn’t think he was going in as Marte retired Morgan Ensberg, issued a walk and popped up Jason Lane.
The phone rang and the message was: if this guy gets on, Buehrle is in.
Brad Ausmus bounced to short and Uribe clanked it bringing the winning run to the plate in the right-handed hitting Everett.
“Marte was at 39 pitches, Ozzie wasn’t worrying about match-ups,” Buehrle said.
Then, Everett popped up and Buehrle had his three-pitch outing and his World Series save.
He has the ball framed at home in St. Charles, Mo. along with his first win (over the Minnesota Twins in 2000), hit (a ringing single, Jon Lieber, Chicago Cubs, 2002) and his first home run (off hard-throwing Braden Looper, Milwaukee Brewers, 2009),
And the ball from his 200th win earlier this season in Baltimore? “Still on the counter at home,” he said.
The night after Buehrle picked up his first career save, the White Sox edged Houston to complete the four-game sweep. It was far from a blow out with scores of 5-3, 7-6, 7-5 in 14 and 1-0.
To White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, a Brooklyn native and a baseball guy, his White Sox winning the World Series was more important than his Bulls winning the NBA titles with Michael Jordan.
“This is bigger,” Reinsdorf said that night. “Basketball and Jordan were as big as basketball could get. I don’t think the NBA Finals are huge normally, but with Jordan they were. This is bigger, it gets more attention, more excitement.
“This is baseball.”
And Reinsdorf was soaked in champagne after his first title in 24 years owning the south siders and the franchise’s first in 88 years.
“I sprayed Jerry, I got a lot of the head honchos,” Buehrle said.
That season Buehrle was 16-8 with a 3.12 ERA in 33 starts pitching a league-high 236 2/3 innings. Oh and he also picked up the win at the All-Star game that July as the Americans won 7-5 at Detroit’s Comerica Park, beat the Boston Red Sox 5-4 in Game 2 of the AL Division Series, the Los Angeles Angels 2-1 in Game 2 of the AL Championship Series and had a no decision in Game 2 of the Series.
“Someone told me I would have been the first to win the all-star game and have a win in each round of the playoffs,” said Buehrle, who said there was one bad part of the Series clinching night.
“It was disappointing when we got back to the hotel everything was closed, so it was three couples sitting around our room,” he said. “We ordered room service. They only served food.”
So, much for the celebrations.
The Series parade began at the Board of Trade and headed north on LaSalle to Wacker.
“I didn’t know there were that many people in the city of Chicago, much less that many White Sox fans,” said Buehrle. “
When it came his time at the microphone Buehrle told fans that “usually at parades someone gets up and does a silly dance. A.J. Pierzynski, Joe Credeand Aaron Rowand are going to sing ‘Don’t Stop Believing.’”
And they did.
Don’t Stop Believing was the White Sox theme song that year.
It would be on the play list of Houston radio more than in Toronto this season.