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Buehrle motivated to reach 200 innings

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TORONTO -- Mark Buehrle's streak of 13 consecutive seasons with at least 200 innings is in danger of coming to an end unless he has a strong final month of the season.

Buehrle has five starts remaining and is 33 innings shy of 200. That works out to an average of just under seven innings per start, which is something Buehrle hasn't done since the beginning of July.

It would appear to be an uphill battle for the veteran left-hander to hit his annual milestone, but he certainly hasn't given up hope quite yet.

"That's the goal I set every year," Buehrle said. "Obviously, in my mind, I know it's going to come to an end sometime, whether it's the result of a bad year or retirement.

"It's one of those things that I still, in my mind, want to get to, and if I don't ... when I get home for the offseason it will be disappointing. I have to fight through these last five starts to try to get there."

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons is among those hoping Buehrle will keep his streak alive. Prior to Saturday afternoon's game against the Yankees, Gibbons looked at the schedule and raised the possibility of Buehrle finishing the year in the bullpen.

Buehrle's final start will likely come against the Mariners on either Sept. 24 or 25. It's possible the Blue Jays could then use Buehrle out of the bullpen in the season finale on Sept. 28 if he needs another couple of innings to reach 200.

"It's important for us, too; we'd love to see him get that," Gibbons said of the 200-inning plateau. "He had that stretch, two or three starts in a row, where he didn't make five [innings]. But he feels good; he says he kind of caught a second wind. His arm feels good."

Buehrle is 11-9 with a 3.50 ERA in 27 starts this season. He has one win in his past 15 starts, while posting a 4.83 ERA over that span.

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

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