Start up the Cardinals speculation: Mark Buehrle likes the idea of pitching in the NL

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Earlier this week impending free agent Mark Buehrle talked about his uncertain future with the White Sox and how he might even consider retiring at age 32, but yesterday he explained that moving to the National League intrigues him.

Buehrle is from Missouri and for years now there’s been speculation about him eventually ending up with the Cardinals, but his comments to Scott Merkin of MLB.com were about the NL in general:

It’s one of those things where it would be kind of an interesting challenge to switch leagues and see how the National League is. … You look at that part where you face guys that many times, it seems like the advantage switches over to them. Switching leagues where guys haven’t seen you as much, it might favor you.

It’s going to be sit back and see what happens. I’ve never been in this spot, so I don’t know if we are supposed to make calls or waiting for them kind of thing. I’m willing or wanting to play for a couple of more years. Whatever teams are out there, I’ll find a suburban place to live that’s comfortable for my family and go from there.

While not quite the innings eater he once was, Buehrle will likely top 200 innings for the 11th straight season and his ERA, strikeout rate, and strikeout-to-walk ratio this year are all nearly identical to his career numbers, so he should draw plenty of interest from teams looking to add a veteran starter atop the rotation.

St. Louis is one of the few teams that seems set with starters for 2012, as Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook, Kyle Lohse, and a rehabbing Adam Wainwright are all under contract, but I’m guessing they’d find a way to fit in Buehrle if he wanted to give them a hometown discount.

Padres clinch NL wild-card spot during 2-1 loss to White Sox

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Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Padres are going back to the playoffs for the first time in a full season since 2006, a spot that they clinched during the seventh inning of a 2-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.

The Padres were batting when the Miami Marlins beat the Milwaukee Brewers in 12 innings. The sellout crowd of 41,407 at Petco Park stood and cheered the sealed wild-card spot.

The Padres trailed 2-0 at the time but Kim Ha-seong homered a few minutes later.

The Padres had a chance to win in the ninth when they put two runners on with two outs against Liam Hendriks but pinch-hitter Jorge Alfaro, who has five walk-off plate appearances this year, grounded out.

Fireworks went off and the Padres players were given hats and shirts, but there was no wild on-field celebration. Manager Bob Melvin was drenched with a cooler of water and the players gathered near the mound for photos. They were cheered by what was left of the crowd as they headed to the clubhouse.

San Diego is one game ahead of Philadelphia for the second of three NL wild cards.

The Padres won a wild-card series against St. Louis after the pandemic-shortened 2020 season before being swept in the division series by the eventual World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

Before that, they hadn’t been to the playoffs since winning the NL West in 2005 and 2006.

It’s the seventh playoff berth in franchise history and the fourth since Petco Park opened in 2004. The Padres haven’t been to the World Series since 1998, when they were swept by the New York Yankees.

The Padres reached the playoffs this year without electrifying shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., who was on the cusp of returning from a broken left wrist when he was suspended for 80 games by MLB on Aug. 12 for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

Slugger Manny Machado has carried the Padres most of the season offensively and they added Juan Soto from Washington in a blockbuster deal on Aug. 2.

The Padres hired the veteran Melvin after last year’s brutal September collapse cost Jayce Tingler his job.

Lance Lynn (8-7) and Blake Snell 8-10) were locked in a scoreless duel Sunday when Elvis Andrus homered off the San Diego lefty with one out in the sixth, his 16th. His shot reached the top balcony of the brick warehouse in the left field corner at Petco Park.

The White Sox went ahead 2-0 on Adam Engel‘s two-out single in the seventh that brought in Andrew Vaughn, who had drawn a leadoff walk.

San Diego got on the scoreboard when Kim homered to left off Lynn with two outs in the seventh, his 11th.

Lynn allowed one run and five hits in seven innings, struck out five and walked one.

Snell allowed one run and three hits in six innings, struck out six and walked one.

UP NEXT

White Sox: RHP Bailey Ober (2-3, 3.18 ERA) is scheduled to start Monday at home against the Minnesota Twins, who will counter with Johnny Cueto (7-10, 3.39).

Padres: RHP Joe Musgrove (10-7, 3.03) gets the start Monday night at home against the San Francisco Giants, who will go with Carlos Rodon (14-8, 2.88).