At this time last year, Mark Buehrle was preparing for his first start with a new team hanging its playoff hopes on his shoulders. Now he's doing it all over again.
After a tumultuous offseason, Buehrle will make his Toronto Blue Jays debut Thursday night in the finale of a season-opening three-game series against the visiting Cleveland Indians.
After spending his first 12 major league seasons with the Chicago White Sox, Buehrle signed a four-year deal with Miami before the 2012 campaign as the Marlins made several high-profile acquisitions to fill the seats in their new stadium and make a run at a return to the playoffs.
The Marlins finished in last place, however, and cleaned house over the winter, sending Buehrle, All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes, and former All-Star pitcher Josh Johnson to the Blue Jays. Now Toronto (0-2) is hoping for better results as it tries to live up to the expectations created by the offseason activity.
Likely excited to put the Miami mess behind him, Buehrle isn't getting caught up in the hype surrounding Toronto's new look.
"I think I've come to realize that making expectations or putting stuff where we're going to get to isn't a good thing because every year I feel like we have a good team," Buehrle told the Blue Jays' official website. "The last couple of years we haven't gotten to where we want to get to. Coming into a new team, on paper we look good."
That may be the case, but the Blue Jays are still looking for their first win and are in danger of dropping their first three for the first time since 2004. They have managed only three runs and nine hits after falling 3-2 in 11 innings on Wednesday night.
"This team's built to score runs," manager John Gibbons said. "We haven't done that yet. But we're going to hit."
Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista isn't panicking either, denying that the team has been affected by heightened expectations.
"No," he said. "That's a big N-O. Both capital letters."
Cleveland is in position for its first 3-0 start since it won its first six in 1998, thanks to Mark Reynolds' tiebreaking home run in the 11th on Wednesday.
"I'm just happy I got my first hit," said Reynolds, who was 0 for 7 with three strikeouts before the game-winner. "I didn't care if it was a go-ahead homer or not."
Reynolds is 1 for 6 with three strikeouts in his career against Buehrle.
Buehrle has made 47 career starts against the Indians. The left-hander was 2-2 with a 6.12 ERA in four starts against them in 2011, his last season with the White Sox.
Like Buehrle, Brett Myers will be making his debut for his new club. The right-hander went 3-8 with 19 saves and a 4.24 ERA in 70 relief appearances with Houston and the White Sox last season before signing with Cleveland in January.
Myers has a 3.97 ERA in six career games - one start - against Toronto.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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