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Sox showing hustle, muscle
A little bit of the new and a little bit of the old was on display Tuesday when the White Sox routed Kansas City 12-5 in their home opener at U.S. Cellular Field.
The newaside from much of the park itselfwas the aggressive baserunning that Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has encouraged from the first day of spring training.
It led to an insurance run in the seventh inning when catcher Miguel Olivo scampered home from second on a dropped third strikeand to a couple outs early in the game.
But the Sox ultimately prevailed by doing what they do bestpound the baseball.
"We have a good offense," designated hitter Frank Thomas said. "We've been saying it all spring."
The Sox needed a potent attack on a day in which Esteban Loaiza gave up four home runs and didn't look like last season's Cy Young runner-up.
"I really didn't have my stuff today," Loaiza said. "I was having trouble gripping the ball. I think today was one of my strongest battles in the game, trying to throw strikes."
While Loaiza struggled, the offense did more than enough to pick him up with 14 hits, including Juan Uribe and Paul Konerko home runs.
Konerko's three-run blast in the fifth put the Sox ahead for good and led to the first curtain call of the season from the crowd of 37,706.
"As a hitter you want to do something that matters in a game," Konerko said. "It's nice when the home runs matter."
The homer was Konerko's first of the season, but he's hitting .370 with six RBIs in the first seven games, a reversal from his dismal start last season.
"I have a good approach going right now," Konerko said. "I'm not too concerned with what the pitchers are trying to do to me."
The Sox jumped on Royals starter Darrell May with the bottom of the order, getting three runs in the second on Joe Crede's RBI single and Olivo's two-run double.
But Loaiza gave it right back in the Kansas City third on Angel Berrora's solo shot and Mike Sweeney's two-run homer.
Aaron Guiel homered off Loaiza in the fourth to give the Royals a brief 4-3 lead. Former Sox infielder Tony Graffanino homered in the seventh to end Loaiza's day.
"I don't think Loaiza was sharp," Guillen said. "But he showed me something. He didn't have enough on the ball, but he still went out and kept his team in the game. That's what I want from all my pitchers."
The last time Loaiza gave up four home runs in a game was Aug. 21, 1998, against the Yankees when he was with Texas. Gary Glover was the last Sox pitcher to do it on Aug. 19, 2002, against the Twins.
"Today was one of those games where you say to yourself, 'What's going on?'" Loaiza said.
Uribe's blast tied the game 4-4 in the fifth and Konerko's three-run shot later in the inning put the Sox ahead 7-4.
They added three more in the sixth and two in the seventh.
"Once we got the three-run lead we knew we were going to bust it open," Konerko said.
But Guillen, managing his first game at U.S. Cellular, had visions of last Monday in his mindwhen the Royals scored sixth in the ninth to erase a four-run lead.
"That team gives you headaches," Guillen said of the Royals.
Tuesday was an emotional day for Guillen, with family and friends in attendance as well as former great Venezuelan shortstops Chico Carrasquel, Luis Aparicio and Dave Concepcion. Also on hand was former Sox catcher Carlton Fisk.
"I was telling [bench coach] Harold Baines, 'I can't wait until the game starts,'" Guillen said.
Neither could the Sox hitters.