Buehrle 2 shy of 15th straight 200-inning year

But could veteran lefty accomplish feat on final day of regular season?

Buehrle 2 shy of 15th straight 200-inning year

ST. PETERSBURG -- Mark Buehrle picked up his 15th win of the season on Friday night, but he fell just short of an even more noteworthy milestone that would have seen him join an exclusive Hall of Fame list.

Buehrle needed 8 2/3 innings to reach 200 innings for the 15th consecutive year, which has previously been done by only Don Sutton, Gaylord Perry, Warren Spahn and Cy Young in Major League history. Instead Buehrle tossed 6 2/3 innings, leaving him two shy of the milestone, but it was still enough to lead Toronto to an 8-4 victory over the Rays.

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The win allowed the Blue Jays to remain tied with the Royals for the best record in the American League. Toronto owns the tiebreaker between the two teams, which means its magic number to clinch home-field advantage throughout the postseason is two with two games left to play.

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"Everybody came in for the last series," said Buehrle, who pointed and waved to family members on his way off the field. "They're up there cheering the whole game for me, and I like to recognize my wife and kids and family and brothers and just people that are here. It's a good feeling."

It's possible that when Buehrle was removed during the seventh inning, he was walking off the field for the final time of his career. Toronto has yet to announce its postseason roster, but it's believed the club will go with a starting rotation that includes David Price, Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada and R.A. Dickey. That doesn't leave any room for Buehrle, but an alternative scenario could see him being moved to the bullpen.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons also didn't want to rule out possibly using Buehrle in Sunday's regular-season finale. He would have to pitch in that game on one day's rest, but it seems to be something the organization would be inclined to do if somehow the Blue Jays wrap up home-field advantage on Saturday with a win and a loss by Kansas City.

Gibbons said a final decision on Buehrle wouldn't be made until closer to that game. The veteran lefty also remained non-committal about whether he'd lobby to take the mound for two more innings before handing things over to the bullpen.

"I don't know, we'll see," said Buehrle, who has yet to announce whether he will retire at the end of the year or return for 2016. "It's short rest. If the game comes down to mattering for having the best overall record, that's their decision. But if it doesn't matter and I can go out there and throw slower than I ever have before in my life, then I might lobby for it. I don't know. We'll see how I feel tomorrow and again on Sunday."

Gibbons admitted he got a little emotional on his way out to the mound to remove Buehrle from the game in the seventh inning. Gibbons has been very open over the last several years about how Buehrle is one of his all-time favorite personalities, and the two shared a moment before leaving the field.

When Gibbons patted Buehrle on the back as he walked off the mound, the 36-year-old stopped and returned the favor by patting his manager on the back as well.

"He's had a tremendous career," Gibbons said. "It's an honor for me to have a chance to manage these three years here. He's been one of the best in baseball year after year. Just durability, wins, he's doing everything right. I had some goosebumps when I was taking the ball from him, because he's a special guy. But his career speaks for itself."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.