Meche solid but victory eludes Royals
Gordon homers and drives in two, but White Sox rally
CHICAGO -- Good points for the Royals: Alex Gordon hit a home run and Gil Meche pitched beautifully. Bad points for the Royals: Kyle Farnsworth did not pitch beautifully and Jim Thome hit a home run.
When it was all sorted out on a sunny, cool Tuesday afternoon, the White Sox had won Opening Day honors over the Royals, 4-2, to the satisfaction of a sellout crowd of 37,449 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Thome, the dangerous left-handed banger, crashed a three-run homer off Farnsworth in the eighth inning to wipe out a 2-1 lead inherited from Meche.
So now the Royals are a woeful 5-15 in season openers on the road and 0-2 in Chicago. Game 1 is a big "L" and the boys in blue had to look for the rosy side.
"It's baseball," David DeJesus said. "It's 161 more. So tomorrow we'll come out and it could be a totally different story. That's the fun part about baseball."
It was fun on Tuesday for the Royals, until Meche was relieved after making 91 pitches. He'd given up seven hits but no walks and was feeling fine.
"I felt good enough to go back out and I told 'em that, but you've got some guys down there who've done it before," Meche said.
Farnsworth entered the season as manager Trey Hillman's eighth-inning setup man of choice. He's the guy who's supposed to hand a lead to closer Joakim Soria.
But in the eighth, Josh Fields led off by bunting safely and, after an out, Chris Getz singled to right. Left-hander Ron Mahay and right-hander Juan Cruz were warming up in the bullpen. Then Farnsworth got Carlos Quentin to strike out.
"As soon as he struck Quentin out, I sat Mahay down. Because I was planning, if Kyle was throwing strikes, I was going to leave him in. Ron has never been just a left-handed specialist," Hillman said.
The Royals released their primary left-handed specialist, Jimmy Gobble, during Spring Training.
The count went to 2-1 on Thome and he launched a fastball high over the center-field wall.
"I got behind him 2-0 and tried to come back on him with fastballs, and that's what he's supposed to do. I think it was up a little bit. When you fall behind good hitters like that, they'll make you pay," Farnsworth said.
Old stuff for Thome, who has three homers in the last two Opening Days and 43 in his career against the Royals.
"When you get a ball in the middle of the plate, especially on a guy like Farnsworth, you have to capitalize on it," Thome said. "It worked out today."
Gordon's homer to dead center got the Royals their first run of the season in the second inning.
"I was just trying to stay up the middle off Buehrle. I was leading off the inning and I knew he was going to come at me. He got that second pitch over the plate and I was able to get a good swing on it," Gordon said.
"He's broken a lot of bats on me. He goes in and out and cuts it and two-seams it. I've had a couple of hits off him but he's pitched me very well in the past."
Against Buehrle, Gordon is just 5-for-20.
Both veteran starting pitchers escaped no-out, bases-loaded jams with just one run scoring.
The White Sox got three straight singles -- by Thome, Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko -- in the second inning against Meche. After two fruitless flyouts, Fields singled to left and Thome scored, but Dye was thrown out at the plate by DeJesus.
Against Buehrle, the Royals loaded the bases in the fifth as Mark Teahen doubled, Jose Guillen singled and Mike Jacobs was hit by a pitch. But Billy Butler's bid for a hit down the line was picked off nicely by third baseman Fields, who forced out Teahen at the plate.
"I thought I had enough to get through but just didn't," Butler said. "That was a big at-bat in this game. Speaking for myself, I've got to do a better job of getting runs in."
Guillen scored on Gordon's fielder's choice -- his second RBI -- before Buehrle fanned Miguel Olivo.
At least Buehrle could not become a career 20-game winner against the Royals -- he's 19-8 so far -- because he left after five innings trailing 2-1. But three relievers choked off the Royals in the last four innings.
"We left some runners on base and both teams were lacking that one big hit," Hillman said.
Until Thome connected, that is.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.