SETTING THE PACE
Coming off a complete-game effort in a 4-1 win in San Diego Saturday night, Mark Buerhle gets the ball for the Marlins tonight in the opener of a 3-game weekend series against Johan Santana and the Mets.
The victory in San Diego was a vintage Buehrle performance that featured 20 ground ball outs and was completed in a relative blink-of-the-eye by 2012 baseball standards.
Long regarded as the fastest-working pitcher in the game, the 33-year-old first-year Marlin finished the Padres off in a cool 2 hours, 18 minutes, marking the 3rd time in 6 Buehrle outings the Marlins had played in less than 2:30.
After the victory over the Padres, I asked Mark about his legendary tempo:
“I’ve always worked quick. No one’s ever really told me the quicker you work the better off you’ll be. I’ve just always gotten the ball and gotten on the mound. I don’t see any reason to walk around and grab the resin, take your time.
“It always helps when they’re hitting the ball to our position guys and getting outs because you can turn around and get the ball back pretty quick. But if you’re giving up a lot of hits it usually takes a little longer to pitch your game.
“I’ve just always worked that way, and I think the other guys like it.”
Over the years, opponents have tried to slow Buehrle down, stepping out of the box between pitches, asking for time, trying to dictate a slower tempo in hopes of taking the 12th-year big leaguer out of his rhythm.
If the idea is to frustrate Buehrle, it doesn’t work.
“The only time it really affects me is when guys are trying to speed me up, the guys who stay in the box,” he said. “Whenever I get the ball back, and I get on the mound, I look up, and if that hitter’s in the box, I don’t want to say it makes me mad, but it’s like he’s almost trying to rush me. That’s when I try to even work faster.
“The guys who call time out and step out and think they’re going to mess with me, they’re going to slow me down, it doesn’t bother me. I kind of think it’s funny. I know what they’re trying to do. But it doesn’t bother me.
The guys who stand in there, they’re the ones that kind of tick me off a little bit.”
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