Friday, April 1, 2011

Sox Opening Series Preview: April 1-3 vs. Cleveland

Probable Pitchers
April 1 - Mark Buehrle (0-0, 0.00) vs. Fausto Carmona (0-0, 0.00)
April 2 - Edwin Jackson (0-0, 0.00) vs. Carlos Carrasco (0-0, 0.00)
April 3 - John Danks (0-0, 0.00) vs. Justin Masterson (0-0, 0.00)

Weather Will be a Factor
The Sox's workout yesterday was notoriously cancelled thanks to several inches of snow that fell in Cleveland. Getting today's game in should be no problem, even if it's a bit chilly, but there are sunny skies today over Cleveland, however, the forecast for Saturday and Sunday are much less pleasant, snow, rain, and cold dominating the forecast.

Key Newcomers Are Hot
Brent Morel and Adam Dunn represent the only turnover in the Sox's Opening Day lineup from 2010 to 2011 and both started out spring very, very cold. The last few weeks of the Spring season have been very friendly to both, Morel especially who finished the preseason hitting .303/.338/.364. The million dollar question with Brent is if his bat will ever be Major League-caliber, but for now, the Sox seem to have enough pop in their lineup to hide the kid at the bottom of the order, so long as he's playing stellar defense at third.

Buehrle Passes Pierce as Sox's Most Prolifict Opening Day Starter
When Mark Buehrle takes the hill today in Cleveland, he will make his 9th Opening Day start for the Sox, breaking the franchise mark that he currently shares with Sox legend Billy Pierce. A look back at his previous Opening Day starts:

April 1, 2002 - White Sox 6, Mariners 5 - Coming off his breakout 2001 season, Buehrle opened the 2002 year by outdueling future teammate Freddy Garcia, pitching 6 strong innings, holding the M's (who won 114 games the previous year) to 1 run on 2 hits. The Sox's offensive MVP was Paul Konerko, posting a .205 WPA on the back of a 3-5 game with a big 2-run double in the 7th. Despite leading 6-1 going into the 8th, the bullpen nearly coughed the win up. Antonio Osuna, Gary Glover, and Damaso Marte allowed 4 runs in the frame and Keith Foulke loaded the bases in the 9th before getting Mike Cameron to fly out to right for the 27th out.

March 31, 2003 - Royals 3, White Sox 0 - A 2-run second was Buehrle's only blemish but ultimately doomed him and the Sox, who could not figure out Runlevys Hernandez en route to the shutout loss.

April 5, 2004 - Royals 9, White Sox 7 - The 1st game of Ozzie Guillen's tenure as Sox manager was a disaster. Buehrle had an OK game, allowing 3 runs (2 earned) on 8 hits in 6.2 innings, but left as the winning pitcher of record before the wheels fell off. The Sox entered the 9th inning leading by 4 runs, but a 6-run Royal rally off Cliff Pollitte, Billy Koch, and Damaso Marte spoiled the afternoon, with the loss punctuated on a 3-run walk-off homer by Carlos Beltran.

April 4, 2005 - White Sox 1, Indians 0 - In a win that foreshadowed the monumental season ahead, Buehrle outdueled Jake Westbrook for 8 strong innings, allowing just three baserunners. The Sox manufactured the game's lone run in the 7th, on a lead-off double by Paul Konerko, deep fly out by Jermaine Dye advancing the runner, and error on Indians 3B Aaron Boone on a sharply hit ball by Aaron Rowand. Shingo Takatsu pitched the 9th for the save in a game that lasted only 1 hour, 51 minutes.

April 2, 2006 - White Sox 10, Indians 4 - After raising the championship banner in a pregame ceremony 88 years in the making, the Sox showed no signs of a World Series hangover, pounding 10 runs on 9 hits against the Tribe, chasing CC Sabathia in the 3rd inning, and getting introduced to Jim Thome who crushed a mammoth 2-run homer in his White Sox debut. Buehrle had a shaky outing, allowing all 4 runs in 4 innings, but left the game early after a rain delay. Brandon McCarthy pitched 3 perfect innings for the win.

March 31, 2008 - Indians 10, White Sox 8 - Returning to the Opening Day role after a 1-year hiatus, Buehrle sure didn't look like an ace. After a 1-2-3 first inning, he allowed 7 runs before being yanked in the 2nd. Despite his poor outing, Buehrle didn't take the loss, as the Sox steadily clawed their way back into the game, highlighted by a 2-run double by Paul Konerko in the 7th, tying the score at 7. Octavio Dotel, however, served up a 3-run homer to Casey Blake with 2 outs in the 8th to seal the loss.

April 7, 2009 - White Sox 4, Royals 2 - Buehrle himself had a fairly mediocre game, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits in 5 innings and was in line for the loss, however, 4 innings of scoreless relief by Clayton Richard, Octavio Dotel, and Bobby Jenks kept the Sox in the game, who finally took advantage in the 8th inning, courtesy of a 3-run Jim Thome home run.

April 5, 2010 - White Sox 6, Indians 0 - A game that will be forever remember for Buehrle's spectacular, between the legs, falling down in foul territory flip to Paul Konerko in the 5th inning was one of his best Opening Day starts. He allowed 3 hits and walked 1 in 7 scoreless innings of work, as the Sox were again paced by Paul Konerko, who gave the them all the cushion they'd need with a 2-out, 2-run homer in the 1st inning off Jake Westbrook.


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