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07/06/05 12:26 AM ET
Buehrle honored for sterling June
Premier left-hander named AL Pitcher of the Month
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Mark Buehrle took great pride in being honored Tuesday as the American League Pitcher of the Month for June, his second such honor in the last two years. But the crafty left-hander, who ranks as one of the most consistent starters in all of baseball, still was a bit miffed over his first start of July on Sunday afternoon in Oakland. It wasn't so much the loss that bothered Buehrle, which ended his nine-game winning streak and gave him just his second defeat against 10 victories, and it certainly wasn't the career-high 14 hits allowed. With Buehrle being around the plate so much, there are going to be games where the opposition takes its collective cuts. The issue that really stuck with Buehrle was a throwing error he made on a grounder back to the mound hit by Eric Byrnes in the fifth, which allowed the A's to erase a 2-0 deficit and grab a 4-2 advantage. Those sort of mistakes don't happen for a Gold Glove-caliber defensive player such as Buehrle. "There's no doubt the one I threw away was more aggravating than anything," Buehrle said. "If I turn the double play there, and the next guy gets out, it's still a 2-0 game. "I make that play 99 percent of the time. It's the one time I rush." Buehrle had very little reason to rush during the month of June, mostly because very few hitters reached base against the White Sox ace during those particular 30 days. The 26-year-old went 3-0 with an American League-best 0.96 ERA (four earned runs allowed in 37 2/3 innings), striking out 31 over five starts. Buehrle threw a career-high 25 consecutive scoreless innings from June 5 to 22, including a shutout over the Dodgers on June 17 at U.S. Cellular Field. Buehrle, who has a 2.58 ERA and two complete games this season, ranks second in the AL in winning percentage (.833), second in innings (129), tied for second in quality starts (13), third in ERA, tied for fourth in wins and eighth in strikeouts (82). There's also Buehrle's incredible run of durability. He has lasted at least six innings in 45 consecutive starts, the longest stretch in the Majors since Pat Hentgen went 47 straight with Toronto during the 1996-97 seasons. It's the longest run by a White Sox hurler since Jack McDowell went 48 straight from 1992-93. With this high level of success, there's a chance Buehrle could be honored by Boston's Terry Francona as the American League starting pitcher in the All-Star Game in Detroit. The modest Buehrle pointed to Toronto's Roy Halladay as his leading candidate, followed by Jon Garland, his close friend, teammate and fellow Pitcher of the Month honoree this season (April). But the awards and accolades don't mean nearly as much to Buehrle as the team's overall success. "It means I'm giving my team a chance to win," said Buehrle of the award. "And this team has scored some runs for me to give me a chance to win."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.