When Ramon Castro caught Mark Buehrle for the first time, it turned into a perfect game.
When Don Cooper managed Mark Buehrle for the first time, it turned into a perfect night.
Buehrle wrapped up his current White Sox contract with seven scoreless innings, allowing his offense to give him a two-run lead and affording Cooper the opportunity to send him out in style.
When Buehrle headed to the mound for the top of the eighth, nobody followed him. When he arrived, he discovered there was no game ball ... until Cooper brought it to him. They shared a moment and a hug in the middle of the diamond, and the crowd gave him a standing ovation as he left the field, which prompted Buehrle to indulge the crowd with a curtain call.
And really, it was a perfect Buehrle start. He only recorded one 1-2-3 inning, and he had to pitch around two errors that turned mundane situations into scoring opportunities. On both occasions, Gordon Beckham failed to catch a ball for a forceout, which put runners on first and second with nobody out.
When it happened in the third inning, Buehrle turned to his second-oldest friend, the double play. Alexei Ramirez ranged to his left, and made an athletic play to get to second and start a 6-3 job. In his final frame, Buehrle had to get three guys out -- a shank to the shortstop, a near double-play to second, and a Mark Teahen groundout to third.
Buehrle exited with a two-run lead, and although Jesse Crain added a bit of tension by surrendering a leadoff homer to Mike McCoy to start the eighth, he and Chris Sale teamed up to nail down the 161st win for Buehrle, and the first for Cooper. Hopefully neither will be the last.
*The catchers supplied the offense tonight -- Tyler Flowers cranked a solo shot to dead center, his second straight game with a homer, in the second inning. A.J. Pierzynski added to the lead with an RBI single to right in the sixth.
*By recording his fifth out of the night, Buehrle pitched 200 innings for the 11th straight season.
*Pierzynski joined Buehrle in the milestone department, as he reached 1,000 innings behind the plate for his 10th straight season.
*Gary Cederstrom caused a delay when he lost count during an Adam Dunn at-bat. Nobody could remember whether the count was supposed to be 2-2 or 3-2, and Cederstrom had to go into the tunnel for video confirmation. After a three-minute delay and a stumble on his way up the dugout steps, Cederstrom told Dunn it was a 3-2 count.
*It didn't matter. Dunn struck out that at-bat, and also in his other two. Now he stands at 177 strikeouts, which means he set the franchise's single-season record in a season, breaking Dave Nicholson's mark of 175 in 1963 (hat tip to Kyle).