Buehrle relishes All-Star homecoming
Sox lefty retires side in order in third to help AL prevail
Check another important item off of the list for Mark Buehrle's baseball's accomplishments, following Tuesday's perfect inning in relief at Busch Stadium.
Buehrle had pitched in the All-Star Game previously, starting and winning the game played in Detroit in 2005. Actually, the efficient left-hander has 2 1/3 scoreless innings on his ledger from three prior appearances.
Tuesday was something special, though, as Buehrle had the chance to pitch in St. Louis, just 25 minutes from his hometown of St. Charles, Mo.
"It was nice," Buehrle said after the American League edged the National League, 4-3. "I didn't have any more nerves than normal, except when [Albert] Pujols came up in the box there. Obviously, you get a little more nervous. But it was awesome. I couldn't draw it up any better -- facing Pujols in an All-Star Game at home."
Buehrle basically used the All-Star Game as his side day, after starting the final game of the first half at the Metrodome. Toronto's Roy Halladay started for the AL and worked two innings. As American League manager Joe Maddon told Buehrle before Tuesday's game, he would follow Halladay to the mound.
There was a high-ranking fan watching Buehrle get ready. The broadcast team of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver mentioned Buehrle warming up in the bullpen when they were interviewing President Barack Obama one inning earlier, and the Commander in Chief was excited.
"It's about time," said President Obama, showing his true White Sox devotion by wearing a team jacket to throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Tuesday.
Although Buehrle didn't get the one-on-one picture with the President that he desired, he did get to shake hands with Obama in the clubhouse and get some autographs. Buck quipped that they had hoped Buehrle wasn't pitching when Obama sat down with them because they would barely have any time to talk.
And almost on cue, Buehrle breezed through the third inning.
Buehrle enjoyed seeing Obama step onto the field wearing a White Sox jacket.
"I looked up, and I was like 'Holy cow, he's actually doing it,'" Buehrle said. "Everybody around me was giving me a hard time, saying, 'What the heck, he's wearing White Sox stuff.' That's how we roll in Chicago. We've got the President behind us."
Chase Utley fell behind 0-2 to Buehrle before flying out to center fielder Josh Hamilton. Albert Pujols grounded out to first baseman Mark Teixeira on a 2-1 pitch from Buehrle, with Buehrle covering first base.
"Sinker away," Buehrle said of the out pitch to Pujols. "Told you I was going to throw him inside."
Ryan Braun grounded out to Derek Jeter to end the inning.
Make that nine pitches and seven strikes for Buehrle, who should have no problem starting the second half for the White Sox at home against the Orioles on Friday night. On Tuesday, Buehrle had a chance to please another sort of home faithful in attendance, putting this effort up there with his 2007 no-hitter and his 2005 World Series save.
"Who isn't [here]?" Buehrle said. "I've got 43 tickets, so a lot of family and friends. Obviously, all my immediate family and my wife and kids. Other than that, just friends and neighbors from my hometown."
Carrying a 9-3 record and 3.66 ERA into the All-Star break, Buehrle certainly didn't try to press any harder in order to get selected for this special Midsummer Classic. But it's one he will always remember.
"You can't do anything different or try harder. If you do, it's going to pass you by," Buehrle said. "But obviously, if I had one to pick, this would be the one I'd like to come to."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.