Jim Thome's Blast Trumps Rays Rookie Niemann in White Sox Win

Steven WynockerCorrespondent IApril 19, 2008

Jeff Niemann—making his second career start—was rudefully introduced to the league by future hall of famer Jim Thome.  After pitching around Thome in the first inning and walking the slugger, Niemann found himself in a jam with Thome at the plate with two on and no outs in the third. 

After working the count full, Niemann tried to sneak a fastball by the man who eats fastballs for breakfast.  Thome feasted on a 90 mph fastball and crushed the ball towards the right-field bleachers.  Instead the ball struck the "C" ring cat walk in the Trop for a HR. 

The next question is where would the ball have landed if the catwalk did not knock the ball down?  In my opinion the ball was still going up and would have put a hole in his own face on the Jumbotron. The talk in the dugout for the next two full innings was about how far it would have gone. 

I am the rays visiting clubhouse bat boy and in two years of work and 21 years of fanhood I have never seen a ball hit so hard and far. The blast put the Sox up 3-0 but seemed to be more than just your average three-run homerun. The air in the trop seemed to be squeezed out of the rays fans and players and the game was seemingly over.   

"Jeff Niemann will pitch for 20 more years in this league and never have a HR go that far ever," said White Sox outfielder Brian Anderson while debating how far the HR would have gone. 

 Paul Konerko followed that up with a solo shot of his own to left field. The White sox scored four in the 4th inning as well and cruised to a 9-2 victory in the series opener.

The Sox will send quick-working lefty Mark Buerhle to the hill against crafty Andy Sonnanstine for the Rays.  Mark Buerhle has owned the Rays in the past and will look to do the same tonight ( 6-1 lifetime against Rays).

Carlos Pena will be in the lineup tonight as the DH after a tight hamstring kept him out of Friday's game. Jason Bartlett has really struggled in the early season both in the field and at the plate.  We will see if he can break out of his slump tonight.