|Chi. White Sox (1-0) «||2||0||2||0||1||0||0||1||x||6||6||0|
CHICAGO -- As the ball ricocheted off his left foot toward the first-base side, Mark Buehrle tried to figure out how to make a play.
A between-the-legs flip? Uh, OK. That'll work.
"You see the play happening, you run over there saying, 'Do I slide and spin, or do I grab the ball and throw it?"' Buehrle said. "I think every thought went through my head. It just happened the way it did."
Buehrle's spectacular play in the fifth highlighted an opening day when he pitched three-hit ball over seven innings and Paul Konerko homered to lead the Chicago White Sox to a 6-0 win over the Cleveland Indians on Monday.
Konerko got his 12th season in Chicago off to a good start with a two-run drive in the first and Buehrle simply shut down the Indians, spoiling Cleveland manager Manny Acta's debut and Jake Westbrook's first start in nearly two years.
Buehrle, starting his club-record eighth opener, looked more like the four-time All-Star he is than the guy who won just twice last year after his perfect game against Tampa Bay on July 23.
He retired the last 10 batters he faced, struck out three and walked one, but most impressive was that play in the fifth, when he stuck his leg out and knocked Lou Marson's hard one-hopper into foul territory along the first-base side. Buehrle raced over and -- in one motion -- used his glove to shovel the ball between his legs to Konerko for a barehanded catch that retired the runner.
Catcher A.J. Pierzynski called it "probably one of the top two or three plays I've seen." He compared it to DeWayne Wise's juggling, home-run robbing catch against the wall in the ninth inning to preserve Buehrle's perfect game.
As the play unfolded, Konerko said, "I was just trying to be loud and let him know where I was because I knew he would be kind of blind. With nobody on base, you can kind of go for broke. It's not like you have to worry about the ball getting away from you. He put it right on the money."
As for the barehanded catch?
"It's not something you practice," Konerko said. "You probably won't see it again for years, maybe."
When the crowd roared, Buehrle knew: Somehow, he got the out. A Gold Glove winner last year, he quickly added this play to the highlight reel.
"I take pride in fielding my position as good as I can," said Buehrle, whose foot was bruised.
Marson couldn't believe Buehrle got him.
"I don't think he even looked at the bag," he said.
After a pause, he asked: "And he went in between his legs? Was it in between his legs?"
For Cleveland, the start of the new season looked awfully like the last one -- a 65-win disaster that led to Eric Wedge's firing.
Westbrook -- back from reconstructive elbow surgery -- tied a club record with four wild pitches, hit Carlos Quentin twice, walked four and allowed five runs and five hits in his first start since May 28, 2008.
"Chalk it up to I just didn't pitch well," he said. "I'm done with the excuses of you haven't pitched in a year and a half. Now it's just a matter of getting better."
He left trailing 4-0 after walking Konerko to load the bases with none out in the fifth, but the trouble began almost as soon as he took the mound.
Quentin doubled to the right-field corner with two out in the first and Konerko made it 2-0 when he sent the next pitch to the right-field bullpen, just beyond a leaping Shin-Soo Choo. He pumped his fist as he rounded first and took a curtain call as fans chanted "Paulie! Paulie!"
|Mark Buehrle yields just three hits through seven innings in his eighth career opening day start. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
|Asdrubal Cabrera, SS||4||0||1||0||0||0||1||.250|
|Grady Sizemore, CF||4||0||0||0||0||1||2||.000|
|Shin-Soo Choo, RF||4||0||0||0||0||3||0||.000|
|Travis Hafner, DH||4||0||1||0||0||1||0||.250|
|Jhonny Peralta, 3B||2||0||0||0||1||0||1||.000|
|Matt LaPorta, 1B||3||0||0||0||0||0||2||.000|
|Mark Grudzielanek, 2B||3||0||1||0||0||1||0||.333|
|Lou Marson, C||3||0||0||0||0||1||1||.000|
|Michael Brantley, LF||3||0||1||0||0||0||1||.333|
|DP - Grudzielanek-A. Cabrera-LaPorta|
|Jake Westbrook (L,0-1)||4||5||5||5||4||1||1||11.25|
|HBP - Quentin (by Jake Westbrook), Quentin (by Jake Westbrook)|
|WP - Jake Westbrook 4 (4)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Jake Westbrook 91-47, Aaron Laffey 28-16, Jensen Lewis 15-11, Tony Sipp 9-8|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jake Westbrook 7-3, Aaron Laffey 3-2, Jensen Lewis 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Jake Westbrook 22, Aaron Laffey 6, Jensen Lewis 3, Tony Sipp 4|
|Chicago White Sox|
|Juan Pierre, LF||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||.000|
|Gordon Beckham, 2B||4||2||2||0||0||1||0||.500|
|Carlos Quentin, RF||2||2||1||0||0||1||0||.500|
|Paul Konerko, 1B||2||1||1||2||2||0||0||.500|
|Mark Kotsay, DH||2||0||0||1||1||0||0||.000|
|a- Andruw Jones, PH-DH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Alex Rios, CF||3||1||1||1||1||0||2||.333|
|A.J. Pierzynski, C||4||0||1||0||0||0||2||.250|
|Mark Teahen, 3B||3||0||0||0||1||1||1||.000|
|Alexei Ramirez, SS||3||0||0||0||0||0||2||.000|
|a-popped out for Kotsay in the 8th|
|2B - Gordon Beckham (1, Westbrook), Carlos Quentin (1, Westbrook)|
|HR - Paul Konerko (1, Westbrook), Alex Rios (1, Sipp)|
|RBI - Paul Konerko 2 (2), Mark Kotsay (1), Alex Rios (1)|
|2-OUT RBI - Paul Konerko 2 (2)|
|CS - Mark Teahen (1, 2nd base by Westbrook/Marson)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|DP - Teahen-Beckham-Konerko|
|Chicago White Sox|
|Mark Buehrle (W,1-0)||7||3||0||0||1||3||0||0.00|
|Pitches-Strikes - Mark Buehrle 95-63, J.J. Putz 14-9, Matt Thornton 10-10|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Mark Buehrle 8-9|
|Batters Faced - Mark Buehrle 24, J.J. Putz 4, Matt Thornton 3|
|Attendance - 38935|
|Game Time - 2:24|
|Temperature - 75|
|Umpires - Home - Gary Darling, First Base - Bill Hohn, Second Base - Bruce Dreckman, Third Base - Mike Estabrook|