The Chicago White Sox were playing like it was June all over again in last night’s dramatic opener against the New York Yankees. The South Siders rallied to beat the Bronx Bombers 6-5 in an 11-inning struggle in which neither team ever led by more than two runs.
Each team got on the board early. Sox starter Freddy Garcia allowed one run in each of the first two innings, and Yankees rookie pitching phenom Chien-Ming Wang gave up three runs in the second. Mr. Wang got the hook by the fifth inning, while Garcia managed to pitch through the seventh, which ended in a 4-4 tie.
However, the Sox’ bullpen nearly managed to blow the game in the next inning. Manager Ozzie Guillen had to change relievers three times in the top of the eighth as the Yanks loaded up the bases with only one out.
What’s worse, Neal Cotts, the third pitcher, spotted New York a run when he nailed Jason Giambi with a pitch. Although Cotts said he was disappointed with the beaning after the game, he added that he was “relieved” that the ‘roid-addled Giambi didn’t seek retribution with extreme prejudice for the plunk. The Sox kept the Yankees from doing any more damage that inning by turning a double play off a Jorge Posada ground ball.
Fortunately for Chicago, the bats bailed the team out. Paul Konerko hit a spectacular solo homer off feared Yankees closer Mariano Rivera in the bottom of that inning to even it up at five all.
In the extra innings, Sox closer and fried chicken fanatic Bobby Jenks struck out three batters and stranded two base runners to keep the Yankees scoreless and allow the heart of the Sox’ lineup to come back up in the 11th.
The stars didn’t disappoint, either. Tadahito Iguchi got a single and Yankees pitcher Scott Proctor walked Jim Thome that inning. Then, after a Konerko fly out, Jermaine Dye hit a single to drive in the Gooch and give the Sox a 6-5 victory.
Not all the Sox fans were happy, though. “When Jenks got called out of the bullpen, I was starting to lose my buzz a little,” Bridgeport native and certified machinist John Slinecki said. “But by the time Jermaine got that hit at the end, I was stone sober. How the hell are you supposed to enjoy a baseball game if you haven’t had a beer for more than an hour?”
Number of the Night: 1
Fingers Guillen held up in his pre-game greeting of the Yankees newest star, Bobby Abreu. Since it’s Ozzie, you only get one guess as to which one it was.