Facing an uncertain future playing for the team he’s spent his entire career with, Buehrle leads the White Sox into the start of a four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
The White Sox were just 10-18 in June, but Buehrle was 3-2 with a 2.75 ERA. The left-hander is a free agent at the end of this season, but the St. Louis-area native has denied that he eventually will sign with the Cardinals.
“Everyone knows where my heart is at and where I want to stay and how bad I want to stay here,” Buehrle (5-4, 3.33 ERA) told the White Sox’s official Web site last week. “I want to stay here and do everything I can to stay here.”
Recent reports indicate Buehrle was close to signing a four-year, $56 million contract to stay with the White Sox (35-43), but both sides are at an impasse over inclusion of a no-trade clause. Buehrle’s career in Chicago, though, also could end ahead of the July 31 trading deadline if both sides cannot work out a deal.
“I don’t see why there would be,” he said when asked if he expected to get huge crowd support on Monday. “Just because all this stuff about me being traded, contract talk, I don’t see why there would be. There could be, but I don’t see why.”
Buehrle is 4-1 with a 2.54 ERA in seven career starts against the Orioles, and has given up only four runs - three earned - over 20 2-3 innings while winning his last three starts against them.
With a 3-1 win over Kansas City on Sunday, Chicago closed out its seven-game road trip with a 6-1 record. Jon Garland improved to 15-5 in 28 career starts against the Royals, and Paul Konerko hit his team-high 15th homer.
“We scuffled bad our last road trip and then we went home and really didn’t pick up the play. Hopefully we can keep going into this homestand and into the break,” Garland said.
But the White Sox have lost five in a row at home - including a three-game sweep by the crosstown-rival Cubs - and will be without oft-injured left fielder Scott Podsednik, who strained a rib muscle while batting leadoff Sunday. Podsednik returned to the lineup on June 23 after missing more than two months with a groin injury.
Erik Bedard (6-4, 3.36) will try to take over the team lead in wins for the Orioles. Bedard, who is tied with Daniel Cabrera, also will be looking to win his third straight start and fifth consecutive road decision.
After dropping his 2007 road debut on April 2 to Minnesota, Bedard has gone 4-0 with a 3.42 ERA in eight road starts and has allowed three runs or less in six of them. He leads the majors with 129 strikeouts.
The left-hander’s best outing this season came in his last start on Wednesday against the New York Yankees. Bedard gave up just two hits over seven innings with a walk and eight strikeouts to outpitch seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens in Baltimore’s 4-0 win.
“Erik Bedard seemed to get better as he went along,” Orioles interim manager Dave Trembley said. “For him to bring his game to the level that he did tonight, knowing who he was facing, one-on-one with Mr. Clemens and the New York Yankees, I think says something about what we’ve got with Erik Bedard.”
Bedard has won his last two starts in Chicago’s AL ballpark, and is 2-2 with a 3.86 ERA in five career starts overall against the White Sox.
Chicago was 5-2 last season against Baltimore, scoring at least 10 runs in three of those wins.