White Sox bullpen crashes the party

Updated 8/17/2014 12:09 AM
  • Longtime White Sox starter Mark Buehrle, now with the Blue Jays, salutes the cheering crowd Saturday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

    Longtime White Sox starter Mark Buehrle, now with the Blue Jays, salutes the cheering crowd Saturday night at U.S. Cellular Field. Associated Press

It was quite a night Saturday at U.S. Cellular Field, at least until another bad showing from the White Sox' bullpen pulled the plug on the party.

Frank Thomas got things started, and the crowd of 29,420 gave the franchise's best hitter and new Hall of Famer a standing ovation during a pre-game ceremony.

Then there was Mark Buehrle, a fan favorite from 2000-11, who was making his first start at the Cell in an opposing uniform.

And then there was right fielder Avisail Garcia, who came off the disabled list earlier in the day and was in the Sox's starting lineup for the first time in fourth months.

It was good times all around, and the park had a buzz not seen or heard very often the past few years.

"It's fun to have a lot of people here, obviously," White Sox starter John Danks said. "It was a good atmosphere, and it was fun to pitch."

The volume reached a crescendo when Paul Konerko's run-scoring single with two outs in the sixth inning rallied the Sox into a 3-3 tie, but reliever Matt Lindstrom allowed 3 runs on 4 hits in the seventh, and Toronto went on to win 6-3.

The White Sox' bullpen has failed to perform throughout the season, and general manager Rick Hahn obviously needs to find some new relief pitchers this winter.

As for the rest of the night, it was action packed.

It started with Buehrle, who took the mound all by himself in the bottom of the first inning. In a classy move, the rest of the Jays gave Buehrle 30 seconds or so to bask in the support of the crowd before taking the field.

"I had a little more nerves and a little more emotion going than I originally thought I was going to," Buehrle said. "Coming out of the dugout and running out, fans started chanting and going crazy, but I just tried to focus and realize what I had to do.

"The reception I got, I was kind of thinking it might be good, but what they did, coming off the field and every time I ran out to hear people cheering, walking off around the dugout, it was exceptional."

It was vintage Buehrle through the first five innings, but the 35-year-old lefty ran out of steam in the sixth and exited with one out.

"I got through five innings quick and ran into trouble in the sixth," Buehrle said after allowing 3 runs on 7 hits. "I take pride going deep into games, and I didn't really go deep into the game today, so that's the frustrating part."

When he was pulled from the game, Buehrle got another standing ovation, and he saluted the crowd.

"I actually texted Konerko and kind of apologized and said, 'Hey, I hope nobody is (ticked) on the team that I tipped my hat kind of walking off the field because I don't know what the rule is as far as being a visitor and kind of tipping your hat,'" Buehrle said.

"It's one of those things that I didn't want to (tick) anybody off on the other team. But at the same time, the reaction I was getting from the crowd, I felt it was right."

In his first game since April 9, when he injured his left shoulder, Garcia showed little or no rust while going 2-for-4 with an RBI single. He just missed a 3-run homer in the sixth inning.

"I tried to make contact to put the ball in play," said Garcia, who batted cleanup. "I had 2 hits today, so I have to keep my head up and be ready for tomorrow. I feel great. I feel really happy to come back this year. I've been working hard. I'm glad to be back here with the guys to help this team win. That's why I'm here."


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