Buehrle baffles Royals for MLB-best 10th win
Veteran lefty fires eight shuout frames; Navarro, Edwin belt homers
TORONTO -- Mark Buehrle may be a soft tosser, but he seems to get things done a little bit quicker than his pitching peers.
The Blue Jays left-hander's pace between pitches entering Sunday's start was a Major-League leading 16.8 seconds. He fired eight scoreless innings to become the Majors' first 10-game winner in pitching the Blue Jays to a 4-0 win over the Royals at Rogers Centre.
Buehrle reached the 10-win mark faster than he's done before in his 15-year career as the Blue Jays salvaged a series split. He earned career win No. 196, while improving to 25-12 overall against the Royals.
The 35-year-old Buehrle would have you believe that his success so far this year can be chalked up to luck. But as his teammates will tell you, the speed with which Buehrle goes about his business on the mound has a profound effect on the entire Blue Jays team.
"It's not luck," said right fielder Jose Bautista. "It's not a surprise that every time he pitches there's good defensive plays made, and it's because he keeps everyone engaged in the game, because he works quick. It's been awesome to play behind him this year."
It was a pair of quick-thinking defensive plays that allowed the Blue Jays to win their second game in a row. Middle infielders Brett Lawrie and Jose Reyes negated a pair of lead off doubles -- eliminating lead Royals runners in scoring position with no outs.
Second baseman Lawrie hung up Alcides Escobar in a rundown as he broke for third base on a Nori Aoki ground ball in the third inning. And Eric Hosmer met a similar fate in the sixth, as shortstop Reyes fielded a none-out grounder from Billy Butler deep in the hole and fired to third to eliminate Hosmer and end the threat.
"I need defense behind me, it's key," said Buehrle, who is enjoying the best start of his career. "I don't strike out many guys [he fanned three on Sunday] so the ball is put in play. I don't know if it's one of those things, working fast keeps them on their toes and keeps them ready to field stuff, I don't know if that's the key to it, but I just like to get the ball and throw it. And I know guys like to play behind you whenever there is a quick game."
Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie went seven strong innings, allowing eight hits, two runs and two walks while striking out five as he recorded his third-straight quality start.
"I thought Guthrie pitched equally as well," said Royals manager Ned Yost. " ... That is a very, very dangerous lineup over there and he did a great job of maneuvering through it, and keeping us right in the game."
After escaping a bases-loaded jam in the first, Guthrie missed with the curveball that Dioner Navarro belted over the right-field wall for his third home run of the season -- extending his hitting streak to seven games. In the fourth, when Juan Francisco led off with a line-drive double that Aoki misplayed in right field. He later scored on Anthony Gose's grounder to make it 2-0.
"Luckily, we were able to put some pressure on them early and I think that it might be why we were able to score a couple of runs early," Bautista said. "Who knows what groove [Guthrie] could've got into if we didn't put pressure on him."
Edwin Encarnacion continued on his recent tear, belting his 19th homer of the season -- a two-run shot in the eighth -- to give the Blue Jays a few insurance runs. He's now hit 14 home runs in the past 17 games. After tying Mickey Mantle for the American League record for most home runs in the month of May with 16, Encarnacion has carried over his success into June, for one day anyway.
"It was a tight game until late and then Eddie came through again," manager John Gibbons said. "He's off to a good start in the month of June."
The Blue Jays finished their 10-game homestand at 8-2, and have an off-day on Monday before opening a three-game series against the Tigers on Tuesday at Comerica Park.