Mark Buehrle’s fastball tops out at 84 miles per hour and isn’t what anyone above the minor leagues would describe as intimidating.
But it’s effective, and tough on the catcher.
Working in his typical fast pace, Buehrle (11-7) pitched seven scoreless innings to pick up his 11th win of the season as Toronto outlasted the Kansas City Royals 3-2 at Rogers Centre.
Watch: Jays beat Royals 3-2
Buehrle struck out five and allowed four hits in his 50th career start — and 22nd career victory — against his former division rival.
“It’s a hard 84, my fingers really hurt when he pitches,” Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia said with a laugh. “It really pops the mitt so I think it’s a loud 84 — he’d be happy that I said that.
“But he mixes up pitches. He mixes up sinker, cutter, change-up, curveball, in, out, up, down. He really commands the entire zone and it’s impressive.”
Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie was also impressed with Buehrle’s outing. Lawrie says he’s a fan of the lefty’s quick pace, which he believes helps offset his opponents.
“That’s one of my biggest things — pace,” the Langley, B.C., native said. “It keeps everybody in the game and it allows everyone to stay in the game, but he gets us back in the dugout. I think he makes the other teams uncomfortable by just working with his pace, gets them in the box and he just gets ahead of guys, gets them off balance.
“It allows us to get in the dugout, put up a couple of runs and he gets right back out there and does it again.”
Adam Lind picked up two RBIs, and Ryan Goins went 1 for 4 to extend his hit streak to seven games. The 25-year-old Goins is now 11 for 26, with a hit in each of his seven games since being called up from the triple-A Buffalo Bisons last Friday.
Goins’ defence also came up big for the Blue Jays as the rookie dove for a sharply hit single and fired the ball to first base for the final out of the game.
“He’s doing a terrific job, he really is,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “There’s no panic in the kid. As we said early on ... He carries himself like he belongs here. And things happening on the field show you that, the results are there.”
Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer each recorded two hits for the Royals (69-65), and Ervin Santana (8-8) pitched seven innings, giving up three runs, two earned, on four hits. Santana racked up six strikeouts and walked two batters.
Brett Cecil allowed two runs in the eighth inning for Toronto (61-74) before being replaced by Sergio Santos, who forced two ground outs to get out of the inning.
Casey Janssen gave up singles to Mike Moustakas and Jarrod Dyson in the top of the ninth, but picked up his 25th save of the season.
The Jays’ victory snaps Kansas City’s five-game winning streak.
“You don’t ever want to lose at this time of year but it was a good game,” said Royals manager Ned Yost. “We fought to the end, it just didn’t happen.”
Lind put the Blue Jays on the board early, hitting a two-RBI single in the bottom of the first inning to score Goins and Edwin Encarnacion.
In the fifth, Anthony Gose smacked a lead-off triple to centre field, losing his helmet along the basepaths before trotting into third base standing up. Goins picked up his second major-league RBI to extend the Jays’ lead to 3-0 with a single that scored his former Bisons teammate.
Former Blue Jay Emilio Bonifacio beat out an infield single and stole second in the first inning to bring his stolen base total with the Royals to nine in nine attempts. The second baseman — returning to Toronto for the first time since being traded to Kansas City two weeks ago — was booed by the Rogers Centre crowd before each of his at-bats.
Bonifacio was also charged with an error.
The Royals threatened in the top of the fourth when Buehrle walked Salvador Perez on four pitches, and gave up a double to Moustakas. But the 34-year-old lefty recovered, striking out Justin Maxwell to end the threat.
It wasn’t until Buehrle left the game that the Royals could inflict some damage.
Gordon hit an RBI single off Cecil in the eighth to score Alcides Escobar and put Kansas City on the board, and Eric Hosmer followed with a single of his own to bring the Royals within one run.
Notes: Encarnacion is one RBI shy of becoming the seventh player in club history to record back-to-back 100-plus RBI seasons. With 34 home runs, Encarnacion is tied with Jose Cruz Jr., for 11th on the all-time club list. ... The Blue Jays are now 34-33 at Rogers Centre this season. ... Blue Jays manager John Gibbons served as a bench coach for the Kansas City Royals from 2008-11 ... Attendance for Friday’s game was 21,030. ...The Blue Jays continue their three-game set with the Royals on Saturday afternoon. R.A. Dickey (10-12, 4.39 earned-run average) gets the start against Royals right-hander Jeremy Guthrie (13-10, 4.19 ERA).