MINNEAPOLIS -- Part of what especially frustrated the Chicago White Sox in Thursday's 3-2 loss to Minnesota was that ace Mark Buehrle was on the mound and, with any run support at all, he walks away with a win instead of maddeningly watching his record fall to 14-12.
"Great game," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said of Buehrle. "You can't ask for any better than that.
"We better start hitting."
Buehrle held the Twins to three runs and eight hits over seven innings. He threw 121 pitches and, during his time on the mound, he held Minnesota, a very good clutch-hitting team, to 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
The way he worked catcher Joe Mauer, who came into the game leading the American League with a .329 batting average, was especially impressive.
In four at-bats, Mauer tapped four ground balls -- a couple harder than others, but nothing significant -- to second base.
What especially impressed Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire, and an early tip-off that Buehrle had his 'A' game, was during Mauer's second-inning at-bat. One out, bases loaded and Buehrle falls behind Mauer 3-and-1.
"He got him to swing down-and-away, and that never happens with Joe," Gardenhire said. "That tells you a little bit about how good this guy is."
The swing resulted into a ground ball to second base, and the play actually scored what turned out to be the winning run when Mauer beat the double-play relay to first base.
"He can run, too," Gardenhire said. "That's the bonus we have with our catcher."
By evening's end, after 42,126 had hollered themselves hoarse and the AL Central had narrowed to a nearly impossibly slim margin with just four games left -- the White Sox lead the Twins by half-a-game -- everybody was spent.
"Exhausted," Gardenhire said. "I mean, exhausted. You sit in that dugout, it's intense. You sit in that dugout and look at the people that are going crazy ... this is what you play for."