White Sox 10, Indians 4
Thome hit a two-run homer after a nearly three-hour rain delay and the defending World Series champions beat the Cleveland Indians 10-4 Sunday night in the major league opener, a game that didn’t end until 2:10 a.m. EDT.
Thome played his first 12 seasons with the Indians before spending the last three in Philadelphia. Facing Cleveland for the first time, he drove out a long homer in a three-run fourth inning off reliever Fernando Cabrera and made his first curtain call at U.S. Cellular Field.
“It was really special against the team you played for,” Thome said. “The crowd the way they showed up was great. … I think everyone knows my history in Cleveland, very fond memories. … It was neat. It brought back a lot of memories.”
Cleveland, which chased Chicago for the AL Central title a year ago only to falter in the final week, sustained an early loss when starter C.C. Sabathia had to leave after 2 1-3 innings after he strained an abdominal muscle while delivering a pitch. He will be re-examined Monday.
“It was just the one pitch,” Sabathia said. “I don’t know what caused it. I threw the pitch, tried to get it on Iguchi and I just felt it grab me a little bit.”
Indians manager Eric Wedge said the injury could potentially send the big left-hander to the disabled list. “It’s just a matter of how bad it is,” he said.
After the 2-hour, 57-minute delay, the game resumed in the bottom of the fourth and, after Cabrera (0-1) walked the first two hitters, the rain began to come down again.
Tadahito Iguchi’s sacrifice fly gave the White Sox a 4-3 lead and Thome delivered a long shot to right through the rain for a three-run cushion. A.J. Pierzynski hit an RBI single and rookie Brian Anderson a two-run single in the fifth to make it 9-3 as the skies finally cleared.
World Series MVP Jermaine Dye, who got the first hit of the 2006 season with an infield roller, singled in another run in the sixth.
The attendance was announced at 38,802—a sellout—and about a one-fourth of the crowd stayed around for the resumption of the game after a long wait.
But White Sox fans know how to wait—88 years between World Series winners.
Chicago clinched all three of its playoff series on the road last season. And despite a wild parade through the streets of the city, Sunday night presented the first chance for the White Sox and their followers to celebrate in their own ballpark.
When the final out of last October’s Game 4 clincher in Houston was replayed on the large center-field scoreboard at the end of a video retrospective, four championship banners hanging beneath outfield light poles were uncovered and fireworks went off.
One banner saluted the club’s World Series championships in 1906 and 1917, another was for last year’s winner, a third hailed the team’s AL championship and the fourth marked its division winners. After the fireworks, another video tribute followed, accompanied by Queen’s “We Are The Champions.”
“It was great. It was a great experience. I really enjoyed it,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “I’ve had a lot of opening days in my life, but I think that was really special. It was the best one I’ve ever been in.”
The fans agreed.
“It was awesome. This is really exciting,” Pat Valiska of suburban Highland Park said. “We’ve waited a long time for this.”
The ceremony also featured the unfurling of an American flag as big as the outfield during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and then a knee-knocking flyover by two jets.
And in the bottom of the third, the White Sox looked like the team that went 11-1 in the playoffs last year, scoring three off Sabathia.
As he delivered that pitch to Iguchi, Sabathia felt the strain. Wedge and a trainer came out of the dugout and after Sabathia threw a couple of warmup tosses, he was forced to leave the game.
Thome has 431 homers, tying him for 35th place with Cal Ripken. …The White Sox also beat the Indians in the 2005 opener, winning 1-0 as Buehrle and Shingo Takatsu combined on a two-hitter. That game took just 1:51 to play.
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