The Chicago White Sox ace came off what most experts and fans would call an excellent season with a dismal team. Crafty lefty Mark Buehrle finished off last season with a ten and nine record with a 3.63 ERA. Along with that ERA came a no-hitter against the Texas Rangers in mid-April.
The Buehrle of 2007 was hardly the Buehrle who climbed the hill in the second inning of Opening Day against the Cleveland Indians.
Buehrle gave up seven earned runs, including two home runs, in an inning and two thirds.
After being pulled in with two outs, Buehrle was pulled for the questionable, at best, last member of the 12 man pitching staff, Nick Masset.
Masset, with two outs and Victor Martinez on first, threw a pitch in the dirt that catcher A.J. Pierzynski was able to get a glove on. A.J. then threw out Martinez at second as Martinez pulled up short with a hamstring injury.
Masset then went on to throw nearly perfect baseball for the next four innings. Over those innings, he collected four strike outs and yielded only two hits, both to Franklin Gutierrez.
Boone Logan contributed a perfect seventh inning with strikeouts of both Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner.
It was in the eighth inning that the Chicago White Sox bullpen woes reared their ugly heads once again.
Octavio Dotel replaced Logan in the eighth. After yielding two hits and a walk, Dotel gave up a game-winning, three-RBI double to Casey Blake.
Did the White Sox lay down and die after Buehrle surrendered seven runs in the second?
The White Sox of 2007 certainly would have. Are the '08 Sox giving up this early?
The Sox fell behind seven to two, after Jim Thome put them up two to nothing with a two-run home run in the top of the first.
However, the bats of the '08 Sox did not stay quiet. Thome answered the Tribe's seven run second with another two-run blast in the top of the third.
The Sox added another run in the sixth on an A.J. Pierzynski single.
Down by only two in the top of the seventh, Paul Konerko drove a double down into the corner scoring the tieing run.
Dye tried to make a comeback after Dotel's implosion in the eighth with a one out, solo home run to left field.
After all was said and done, the '08 White Sox mustered five runs against the returning Cy Young winner and Indians' ace, C.C. Sabathia.
If anything could be taken from the Sox Opening Day, it is this: The offense will be there and will keep them in every game.
However, there is something even more important. Maybe, just maybe, C.C. Sabathia is more hit-able than his '07 numbers tend to make listeners believe.
And if that is true? The AL Central will become much more open than experts have made it seem.
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