For 12 seasons, Mark Buehrle delighted Chicago White Sox fans while pitching at U.S. Cellular Field.
Looking to end his post-All-Star break struggles, Buehrle takes the mound on the South Side for the first time as the opposition Saturday night when he tries to help the Toronto Blue Jays avoid a fifth straight defeat.
From 2000-2011, Buehrle (11-8, 3.31 ERA) went 90-53 with a 3.73 ERA in 190 home starts for Chicago before signing a four-year, $58 million US deal with Miami. Last month marked the fifth anniversary of the perfect game he threw against Tampa Bay at U.S. Cellular - two years after he tossed a no-hitter versus Texas there.
"I'm sure it'll be different," Buehrle told MLB's official website of his return. "I'm going to try not to make it too different for us, go out there and treat it as every other game. But I'm sure there's going to be some emotions."
The left-hander, who allowed two runs in eight innings of a 4-0 loss to the White Sox (58-64) on June 29, is 1-1 with 2.51 ERA against his former club while with Toronto.
Perhaps Buehrle can use some extra motivation to end a five-start stretch where he's gone 1-2 with a 7.04 ERA since the break. He's failed to complete five innings in three of his last four, including the last two where he's allowed nine runs - six earned - and 19 hits over 7 1-3 innings while going 0-1.
Two of the five runs he yielded over 3 1-3 innings were earned in Sunday's 6-5, 19-inning victory over Detroit.
Instead of keeping Buehrle around after the 2011 season, Chicago signed his good friend and scheduled starter John Danks (9-8, 4.96) to a five-year, $65 million deal.
"Sure, he is one of my favorites," Danks said. "That doesn't stop me from wanting to beat him."
Danks also has struggled since the break, going 1-2 with a 9.22 ERA in five outings following a four-start stretch where he was 2-0 with a 2.73 ERA. The left-hander allowed three of his four runs in the second inning and lasted 6 1-3 of a 4-2 loss at Seattle on Sunday.
However, he gave up only back-to-back solo homers to Dioner Navarro and Edwin Encarnacion in the sixth inning of a 5-4 win at Toronto on June 27 to improve to 2-4 with a 5.89 ERA in seven starts against the Blue Jays.
Both of Encarnacion's two hits in eight at-bats against Danks left the park.
The Toronto slugger went 0 for 4 during Friday's 11-5 loss in his first game since missing more than a month with a strained quad.
The Blue Jays (63-60) are 3-10 this month after winning 11 of their final 13 in July.
Chicago's Jose Abreu had three hits and raised his major league-leading RBI total to 89 with three Friday. The Cuban rookie is 8 for 20 with two homers and six RBIs against the Blue Jays, and 1 for 4 versus Buehrle.
Teammate Alexei Ramirez is 3 for 6 with a double against him.
Ramirez stayed in the game Friday after he was hit on the hand by a pitch. However, it's uncertain if outfielders Dayan Viciedo (dizziness) and Moises Sierra (back) will be available after they left the same contest.
Out since April 9 with a shoulder injury, Chicago outfielder Avisail Garcia could return as early as this weekend. He hit .267 with two homers and four RBIs in eight games before the injury.