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First Pitch: Buehrle seeks Opening Day redemption

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First Pitch: Buehrle seeks Opening Day redemption

Friday, April 1, 2011
9:03 a.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

CLEVELAND The good news is that Mark Buehrle has been aces in his Opening Day starts. The bad news? The one exception came three seasons ago, here at Progressive Field.

The last time he started Opening Day in Cleveland, oh, it was an ugly one, Guillen said. Ill ask Mark: Please dont do that again.

Hopefully Ill do better than I did the last time we started in Cleveland, Buehrle smiled. Because that was 1 23 innings, and that was rough.

In that 2008 game, Buehrle gave up seven earned runs but escaped with a no-decision, as the White Sox drove Indians starter CC Sabathia out of the box early in an eventual 10-8 loss.

Buehrle is 3-1 lifetime with a 3.39 ERA in eight Opening Day starts. Remove 2008 from his opener resume, and the lefthanders Opening Day ERA falls to 2.08.

His Opening Day, 6-0 shutout of Cleveland a year ago both set a team record for most Opening Day starts and saw the two-time Gold Glove winner author the most spectacular fielding play of his career, a hockey kick-save, football-hike assist on a Lou Marson slap through the box.

Buehrle has had some big highlights vs. Cleveland in his career, but overall has scuffled some, going 13-15 with a 4.64 ERA, .804 OPS, 2.14 BB and 1.38 WHIP. Hes a touch better in his career at Progressive Field, Buehrle is 6-7 with a 4.13 ERA, .739 OPS, 2.29 KBB and 1.29 WHIP.

Heres how the Wahoos will line up vs. Buehrle:

1. Michael Brantley, center field (2-9, .444 OPS, two strikeouts career vs. Buehrle)
2. Asdrubal Cabrera, shortstop (6-29, .523 OPS, three walks, five GIDP)
3. Shin-Soo Choo, right field (10-26, 1.064 OPS)
4. Carlos Santana, catcher
5. Travis Hafner, designated hitter (14-60, .761 OPS, 15 Ks, six HBP)
6. Orlando Cabrera, second base (17-49, .866 OPS, home run)
7. Matt LaPorta, first base (3-16, .485 OPS)
8. Austin Kearns, left field (3-6, 1.167 OPS)
9. Jack Hannahan, third base (2-6, 1.095 OPS)

Pick to click? What's new, its Choo.

Fausto Carmona takes the bump vs. the White Sox, bringing a career record of 7-3 vs. the South Siders, with a 4.36 ERA, .729 OPS, 1.32 KBB and 1.39 WHIP. In his career at Progressive Field, Carmona is 24-28 with a 4.15 ERA, .720 OPS, 1.58 KBB and 1.40 WHIP.

Heres how the White Sox will attack the righthander:

1. Juan Pierre, left field (1-8, .347 OPS career vs. Carmona)
2. Gordon Beckham, second base (1-6, .611 OPS, three walks)
3. Adam Dunn, designated hitter (0-8, four Ks)
4. Paul Konerko, first base (4-11, two HR, six RBI, five walks, 1.465 OPS)
5. Alex Rios, center field (3-18, .417 OPS)
6. Carlos Quentin, right field (0-2, walk)
7. A.J. Pierzynski, catcher (6-21, .699 OPS, two GIDP)
8. Alexei Ramirez, shortstop (2-9, .522 OPS)
9. Brent Morel, third base (1-2, HR)

Outside of Konerko, the White Sox offense could scuffleunless Morel wants to spin some sophomore magic and take Carmona deep again.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

Cubs' Twitter trolls Brewers, Christian Yelich after Yu Darvish's stellar start

Cubs' Twitter trolls Brewers, Christian Yelich after Yu Darvish's stellar start

The Cubs' Twitter account has been saving this one for nine months.

First, let us present you with this doozy of a tweet from the Cubs after Thursday's 4-2 win over Milwaukee.

If you recall, Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich went at Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish on Twitter last November. A since-deleted tweet from Yelich's account to Darvish read "nobody needs help facing you."

A video circulated in November that showed Darvish step off the rubber while Yelich was in the batter's box during a 2019 Cubs-Brewers game. Some suggested Darvish stepped off because Yelich's eyes moved, also suggesting Yelich was looking for signs stolen via technology.

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In response to the video, Darvish explained his actions from that game, clarifying he wasn't accusing Milwaukee of stealing signs.

Here we are nearly a year later, the Cubs' Twitter playing off Yelich's tweet after Darvish dominated Milwaukee. He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, allowing a hit (a solo homer) and two walks while striking out 11.

If you're wondering, Yelich went 0-for-2 with a hit by pitch against Darvish on Thursday.

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Cubs rotation weathers surprise break, shakeup to be as dominant as ever

Cubs rotation weathers surprise break, shakeup to be as dominant as ever

Hair flowing out from under his cap, Yu Darvish held his right leg up at a right angle and watched Brewers’ Omar Narvaez swing late on a high fastball.

If Darvish stuck an arm out, his body would be in the shape of a K, fitting for yet another strike out.

In the Cubs’ 4-2 win against the Brewers on Thursday, Darvish allowed just one hit and one run in seven innings. In fact, in the Cubs’ past three games no starter has given up more than a run, and all pitched at least six innings.

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“It makes my job really easy,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “It’s fun to sit back and not have to worry about too much until the sixth or seventh inning.

The Cubs rotation has been a strength all season. Entering play Thursday, the Cubs starters had the third-best ERA in Major League Baseball (2.65). But this recent string of especially dominant performances came under unusual circumstances: right after a surprise four-day break.

Starting pitchers enjoy a consistent schedule through most of the season. They generally pitch every fifth or sixth day, with a bullpen in between starts.

But the postponement of the St. Louis series, due to more positive tests in the Cardinals organization, threw off that routine for the Cubs starters. The Cubs left St. Louis last Friday without having played a game.

The Cubs coaching staff had a decision to make: skip the pitchers scheduled to start in those un-played games, or shuffle the rotation? They did a little bit of both.

Jon Lester, who was originally scheduled to start last Friday, threw his regular in-between-starts bullpen on Saturday and drew the first start of the Cleveland series.

Then, the rotation picked up at the beginning. The Cubs’ first three games back had Lester, Kyle Hendricks and then Darvish taking the mound. All had dominant outings, despite the extra days rest.

"There have been so many things going on this whole year,” Hendricks said, “I think that nothing's going to faze us now.”

Having Mills and Lester swap places also split up the two most similar pitchers in the Cubs rotation. Hendricks and Mills are both soft-throwing, crafty right-handers. With Mills pitching fifth and Hendricks first, they threw on consecutive days as the rotation turned over.

Now, left-handed Lester will pitch in between the two, giving hitters a different look.

“We talked about it a little bit,” Hendricks said after his start Wednesday. “I think it's a little overblown, the effect of it. I think the last two games that I've pitched behind (Mills) I just haven't made a lot of good pitches, I was kind of off a little bit. Today I just made better pitches. ... And honestly, seeing how he attacks guys helps.”

Even so, Lester set the bar high out of the break and then Hendricks matched his one-run six innings.

“We’re not talking about it, but we’re putting pressure on each other,” Darvish said. “That’s a good pressure for us.”

On Thursday, Darvish said he stuck to mixing in his knuckle curve ball early in counts, as he’d begun to do against Pittsburgh two weeks before. He had a no-hitter going into the seventh inning Thursday but gave up a solo home run to Justin Smoak. Darvish recorded a season-high 11 strikeouts.

“I thought he had really good command of his off-speed stuff tonight,” Ross said after the game. “… Really kept them off balance. You really didn’t see a whole lot of good swings until that homer form Smoak.”

Next, the streak will be in the hands of Tyler Chatwood and Mills. Chatwood had a dud of an outing the last time he pitched, allowing eight runs on 11 hits at Kansas City. But he averaged over nine strikeouts in each of his first two outings.  And Alec Mills has a 1.38 ERA, the second best on the team, behind Lester (1.06).

Both have been integral parts of the rotation overperforming, after the Cubs front office was up front about its starting-pitching depth concerns ahead of the season.

After Thursday’s game, the Cubs rotation has improved to a 2.55 ERA, with a 12-3 record.

 

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