White Sox bats generate win over KC
Six-run first inning keys rout of Royals; Buehrle strong
CHICAGO -- Any fan who showed up approximately 25 minutes late to Friday's contest between the Royals and the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field missed the bulk of the South Siders' run production.
It took Ozzie Guillen's crew a mere 16 pitches from Zack Greinke to score five first-inning runs and knock out seven hits en route to a 9-5 victory over Kansas City before 36,291 in attendance. The victory maintained the White Sox 1 1/2-game lead over the Twins in the American League Central, but that division margin isn't nearly as important as the host squad's high octane offense picking up right where it left off after the four-day All-Star break.
Beating Greinke (7-6) as they did was an added bonus to start the second half for the White Sox (55-40), who were shut down by the right-hander over seven innings at Kauffman Stadium just four days prior to the completion of the first half. Such is life for Greinke in Chicago, as he slipped to 0-6 with a 7.78 ERA lifetime at U.S. Cellular.
"I know he hasn't pitched well here, which kind of blows my mind that he deals against us at their place, and we hit him so good here," said Mark Buehrle, the beneficiary of his team's explosive opening frame. "It's just one of those things. The U.S. Cellular funk. I don't know."
"We face this guy five times a year," added White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker on the taking down of the talented Greinke, who allowed one run on six hits in Kansas City. "When he's on his game, we don't do too well. When he's not, we get him every now and then. Tonight was our night."
Walker said there was no hitters' meeting to discuss a new approach against Greinke, but it was clear from the outset that the White Sox wanted to attack Greinke's fastball early in the count. Orlando Cabrera set the tone for the outburst, lining the opening inning's first pitch to center for a base hit.
A.J. Pierzynski sent Cabrera to third with a single on the next pitch, and Carlos Quentin was hit by Greinke's third offering. Jermaine Dye drove home two with a single to left on the fourth pitch, while Jim Thome and Paul Konerko added a pair of run-scoring singles within the next three pitches. Nine pitches later, following a Nick Swisher walk to reload the bases, Joe Crede's single scored run No. 5 on pitch No. 16.
Credit goes to the aggressive White Sox offense, as opposed to blaming Greinke for the six-run inning completed by Alexei Ramirez's sacrifice fly.
"You know what, we were different," said Dye, comparing his team's last two efforts against Greinke. "We came out and attacked. Before you knew it, he had given up a couple of runs on four or five hits. He didn't know what hit him."
"A guy like that, who has the pitches he has, you want to get off on the fastball if you can," Walker added. "And we are a good fastball hitting team. Our guys really came back ready to go."
Buehrle (7-8) seemed as ready as his cohorts with the bats to tackle the second-half challenge, allowing three earned runs over seven innings. He fanned three, walked two and broke a personal two-game losing streak.
In fact, it was Buehrle who suffered the loss in Kansas City last Thursday, when Greinke started and earned a no-decision in the Royals' come-from-behind victory. So, it was a little bit of payback for the southpaw.
"That was definitely nice to come out and get the run support," said Buehrle, who passed Joel Horlen for seventh place on the White Sox all-time victory list with 114. "It's good when they had four days off to come out and swing the bats like they did."
"Every time he's out there, Buehrle has continued to help this ballclub," added Guillen of Buehrle, who threw 98 pitches before giving way to Nick Masset, Matt Thornton and Octavio Dotel.
Quentin added his 23rd home run, while Dye's three hits pushed his average to .311. Greinke didn't exactly get a great deal of sympathy from Buehrle for his first-inning travails, not when the White Sox bats were producing support for the ace hurler.
Of course, Buehrle has been in that same situation himself previously, so he understands Greinke's temporarily feelings of helplessness.
"Plenty of times," said Buehrle with a laugh, when asked if he had a similar choppy first inning during his successful career. "At Wrigley a couple years ago, I gave up seven or eight runs, and I don't know how many pitches I had, like 15 pitches. So, I don't feel too bad for him."
"It was a good day, a real good day. What are you going to say?" Walker added. "He had a bad day and we had a good day. He just did the same thing to us in Kansas City, so he's good. But it was more us than him."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.