CHICAGO (AP)—With A.J. Pierzynski at the plate, anything can happen and often does.
“I’m lucky I didn’t swing at it. I almost did,” Pierzynski said. “He wasn’t trying to hit me and I wasn’t trying to get hit. It just looked like it got away from him. He threw a cutter and luckily for us it worked out.”
Pierzynski’s shrewd play at the plate during the 2005 AL championship series started a key rally for the White Sox when he ran to first base on a pitch that was ruled a dropped third strike.
On Thursday, he said Hernandez’s pitch caught him near the back of his left arm.
“I have to make sure to not go so far in,” Hernandez said.
Did Pierzynski make enough of an effort to get out of the way?
“Ask him. Ask him. I’ve played enough against him. That ball wasn’t that close,” Hernandez said. “But game on the line, bases loaded, free way to get a win.”
Chicago got its first victory of the season on a day when starter Mark Buehrle was forced out in the second inning when he was hit in the left forearm by Ryan Garko’s line drive. X-rays were negative, and Buehrle said hopes to take his next turn.
“It just went numb. I didn’t know if anything really happened until I looked down and it kind of balled up,” Buehrle said. “My heart kind of stopped because I thought it was broken at first. I’ve never seen anything like that happen.”
Jermaine Dye and Joe Crede hit back-to-back singles off Hernandez (0-1) to open the ninth. Hernandez then made a low pickoff attempt at second for an error, with pinch-runner Rob Mackowiak and Crede moving up.
“I probably should have held it,” Hernandez said.
After the error, Tadahito Iguchi was walked intentionally to load the bases before Hernandez grazed Pierzynski with the pitch. Pierzynski said he got the word from plate umpire Greg Gibson that he’d been hit.
“Well, I looked at him and then he kind of nodded. He knew it hit me, but he wasn’t sure until I made the motion,” Pierzynski said.
Bobby Jenks (1-0) pitched 1 1-3 innings for the victory.
Cleveland’s Grady Sizemore hit a leadoff homer to become the first Indians player to homer in each of the first three games of the season. He has nine leadoff homers in his career, two in the first series this season.
“He’s going to hit his fair share of home runs,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “He’s obviously a spark plug for us. He creates a lot of energy for us at the top of our lineup and the beginning of the ballgame.”
Cleveland tied it in the eighth against Matt Thornton on Sizemore’s single and Jason Michaels’ RBI double. Scott Podsednik’s two-out single in the seventh off Rafael Betancourt had given the White Sox a 3-2 lead.
Sizemore homered off Buehrle on the third pitch of the game. He hit leadoff homer on the second pitch in Monday’s opener to spur a 12-5 victory, then put the Indians ahead with a two-run shot Wednesday in an 8-7 win. He also made three nice catches in center field Thursday, hitting the fence each time and holding on to the ball.
Buehrle, who slumped in the second a year ago after making the All-Star team to finish 12-13—his first losing record in seven seasons—left after he was hit without throwing a warmup pitch. The ball ricocheted all the way to the third base line. Buehrle gave up three hits and a run in 1 1-3 innings.
“I guess good luck because it’s not broken,” Buehrle said.
Nick Masset relieved and allowed four hits over 4 2-3 innings.
Indians starter Jeremy Sowers allowed a leadoff single to Podsednik in the first and then held the White Sox hitless for the remainder of his outing, going six innings and allowing two runs with five walks.
Michaels, who made a tumbling catch to end Wednesday’s game, hit a solo homer of Masset to put the Indians ahead 2-1 in the third.
After his leadoff homer in the first, Podsednik stole second, moved up on an infield out and scored on Paul Konerko’s RBI grounder. The White Sox tied it in the fourth without a hit. Iguchi hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly after Sowers had a temporary bout of wildness with two walks and a hit batsman.
Another cold day greeted the teams with a 35-degree first-pitch temperature and wind blowing at 23 mph. … Sowers didn’t play for the final three weeks last season after pitching 185 2-3 innings combined in the majors and minors. His last start was Sept. 12.