Buehrle, Dye forging dynamic duo
Slugger, pitcher team up for historical night on South Side
CHICAGO -- It seems like a prudent move for both Jermaine Dye and Mark Buehrle to stay with the White Sox after the 2007 season. Or at least both affable standouts should sign free-agent deals with the same team.
With the way Dye provides support during Buehrle's starts, sticking together should help both of their individual numbers.
Dye came through for Buehrle once again on Wednesday night in the biggest regular-season performance of the 28-year-old's highly successful career. First off, there was Dye's defense, turning Hank Blalock's long fly ball to right with two outs in the second inning into a routine out as he reached up to the top of the right-field wall in order to corral the drive.
But the biggest boost from Dye came through a jump-start to his slow-moving offense in the fifth inning. Texas starter Kevin Millwood had retired the first two hitters of the frame before giving up Tadahito Iguchi's single to center and issuing walks to Jim Thome and Paul Konerko. Dye took three straight pitches outside the strike zone, before Millwood came back to work the count full.
After six straight foul balls, and on the 11th pitch of the battle, Dye lined a drive into the White Sox bullpen in left for his sixth career grand slam and third home run of the season. Two of those home runs have come with Buehrle on the mound, but of greater importance on this evening, a precarious 1-0 lead quickly became a 5-0 cushion.
As Millwood and Dye traded punches during his fifth-inning trip to the plate, the All-Star right fielder would occasionally trade glances with Buehrle in the dugout in between pitches.
"During my at-bat, I was fouling off all those pitches, and every time I would step out, he would be on the top step looking at me and laughing, telling me to do something," said Dye of Buehrle. "When I hit the home run, I came around third and looked at him. It was funny.
"It's been good for me when he pitches. I've always done something to help him out. We joke around about it all the time. It was good to contribute, especially when you have a guy going out there and doing what he was doing."
In a way, Dye can relate. When he was in high school and considered an up-and-coming pitching prospect, Dye threw a no-hitter of his own.
"I threw one with nine walks," said Dye with a laugh. "But this feels really good. You never dream about being a part of a no-hitter, which is tough to do in this day and age.
"That was exciting, especially for a guy like Buehrle who is not overpowering. He has to hit his spots, and tonight he did. And against a tough team like Texas, it's unbelievable."
After Buehrle completed the eighth inning unscathed, Dye knew that history was in the offing. Dye reasoned that many no-hitters are broken up in the seventh or eighth, but hitters start over-swinging in the ninth in order to avoid becoming an historical footnote.
On Wednesday night, Dye became a footnote in Buehrle's historic effort. It's the same sort of support Buehrle will expect from Dye once again on Monday during his next start in Kansas City.
"I don't know what it is," said White Sox third baseman Joe Crede of the Dye-Buehrle connection. "It always seems like [Dye] comes through for him."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.