Catching any big-league pitcher is still fun for Jamie Burke. But it is a real treat to handle someone as efficient as Mark Buehrle.
"It's fun," Burke said. "It's amazing how you go out there and you have all the confidence in the world with the guy. He's hitting all his spots, working fast and throwing strikes. It is fun."
Buehrle breezed through the Texas Rangers for a complete game in a 7-3 victory Thursday night. He allowed two homers but only one other hit as the Sox won the series three games to one. They moved to three games above .500, eight games behind Minnesota in the American League Central.
With only 19,384 fans at Ameriquest Field, the Sox answered with a three-run homer by Joe Crede and a two-run homer by Paul Konerko, both off starter Chris Young (1-2). Konerko's home run was his 36th, which moves him within two of Manny Ramirez's for the AL lead.
Buehrle (14-8) faced only 31 batters in a complete game. He retired 15 of the last 16 hitters he faced, including the final eight.
"I had everything working," Buehrle said. "My curveball was working. My cutter was probably working better than it has all year. It was just one of those things where I could throw all of my pitches and hit my spots."
Buehrle's only scary moment came on the first batter. Eric Young smashed a wicked liner that was headed at the left-hander's head before he stabbed it with his glove.
"He has good reactions," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "That's the only reason he didn't get killed."
When Burke visited the mound after Young's liner, he asked Buehrle if he needed any toilet paper. He was trying to help his pitcher stay in the right frame of mind, and it worked.
"Connecting with the pitcher is the main thing I try to do," said Burke, a rookie who turns 33 later this month.
It's not the only thing he can do, however. Burke was 2-for-4 and lost an extra-base hit when umpire Laz Diaz didn't see his eighth-inning liner bring up chalk down the right-field line. He later struck out, dropping his batting average to .379. That's the best in the majors among hitters with at least 50 at-bats.
"It feels good," Burke said. "I'm just going up there looking to get hits, and I'm glad I'm doing it at this time. All I can try to do is put the ball in play."
And keep his pitchers smiling.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times