Without a doubt, everyone will be talking about Jim Thome's 3-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning Tuesday that gave the White Sox a 4-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Opening Day.
But none of that would have been possible without some veteran guile from left-hander Mark Buehrle, who made his seventh Opening Day start as a member of the White Sox.
Buehrle had nothing in the way of stuff Tuesday, but he put on a clinic on how to keep your team in the game while pitching with less than your best. The Royals had Buehrle on the ropes in each of the first five innings. Sure, they nicked him for a couple runs, but they never knocked him out.
Here are the jams Buehrle pitched out of:
First inning: First and second, one out -- No runs for Kansas City
Second inning: Solo HR followed by a one-out double -- One run for Kansas City
Third inning: First and second, one out -- No runs for Kansas City
Fourth inning: First and second, one out, Second and third, two outs -- No runs for Kansas City
Fifth inning: Bases loaded, nobody out -- One run for Kansas City
Buehrle's final line: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 K, 3 BB, 2 HBP.
Not particularly impressive, but consider that the Royals stranded nine runners during those five innings. Buehrle got every big out he needed. He left trailing 2-1, but it very easily could have been 5- or 6-1. Instead, the Sox stayed in the game and Thome provided the heroics off Kansas City reliever Kyle Farnsworth.
Farnsworth, who former Beacon News sports editor Bill Kindt called "Farnsworth-less" during the right-hander's days with the Cubs, has a long record of choking against the Sox. Coming into today, he had an 8.10 ERA in 27 career games against the South Siders, including 10 HRs allowed in 26-plus innings. Those numbers just got worse.
Frankly, I can't believe Royals' skipper Trey Hillman allowed Farnsworth to face Thome with the game on the line. Is Ron Mahay dead? If you're Kansas City (and fortunately I am not Kansas City), don't you have to bring in the left-handed reliever to face Thome with the game on the line?
Bad move, Hillman. The Sox and their fans will take it.