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It was a day to exhale, sit back in the comfy chair and put the antacids back in the medicine cabinet.
The White Sox crushed Kansas City 14-0 Saturday afternoon at Kaufmann Stadium, ending a season-opening stretch of games that only a masochist could love.
The blown leads, poor fielding and inconsistent hitting seemed like a distant memory after Mark Buehrle and the Sox lineup put it all together against Chad Durbin and the Royals.
"After that last [loss] in Seattle we knew that can't happen anymore," third baseman Jose Valentin said of Wednesday's 7-6 loss, in which the Sox gave up four runs in the ninth inning.
"We have to figure it out right away. Those are games that later in the year we're going to need. Last year we lost a lot of games like that, but it's over now."
The Sox entered Saturday's game with a team batting average of .261, but pounded out 16 hits to improve to .289. Magglio Ordonez went 3-for-4 with his first home run, driving in three runs, while Paul Konerko added two doubles and three RBIs.
"Sooner or later, I had to start hitting," Ordonez said. "I feel like my rhythm is back."
"I've always felt that if we can have one of the two guys (Ordonez or Frank Thomas) swinging the bat well, it gives us a pretty good chance," manager Jerry Manuel said.
"When Magglio comes out of it like today, it gives us hope. If we can have some of those guys pick up the slack right now, until the big fellow gets going, you've got to feel pretty good."
The "big fellow" continued his early-season slump. Thomas went 1-for-4 Saturday for a .222 average this season, but it didn't matter. Buehrle improved to 2-0 with six innings of scoreless pitching, combining on the shutout with Bob Howry and Keith Foulke. Buehrle's earned run average stands at 0.75, and the ERA of the four Sox starters is 3.41.
With Buehrle's victory, four members of the White Sox's 2001 rotation are a combined 5-0 in the first week of the season. Unfortunately for the Sox, David Wells, Kip Wells and James Baldwin all got their wins with their new teams. The ex-Sox factor also worked for Josh Fogg, who shut down the Cubs on Saturday.
Handing Buehrle a four-run lead in the first inning, as the Sox did Saturday, is like giving Michael Johnson a 40-meter lead in the 200. "This offense is going to be doing that a lot this year," Buehrle said.
When Buehrle is starting the Sox know it won't take a lot of runs to win.
"You know you're going to get a solid start from him," Konerko said. "Now a four-run lead, I don't care who's pitching, that can go in a hurry. I don't care if it's Roger Clemens. But you get a feeling that it's more of an uphill battle for them because he doesn't get rattled. He minimizes his pitches and gets out. We feel good when he takes the mound."