5 Best Opening Day Starts in White Sox History (Retrosheet Era)

Because I don't want to write one of those forced preview pieces.

#5. Wilbur Wood, 1973 -- 9 IP, 4H, 1R, 2BB, 6K

Only 22-thousand people saw Wood's gem to open the '73 season. There were three other Complete Game, 1-run allowed outings that didn't make the list; Billy Pierce, 1956; Juan Pizzaro, 1962; and Wood again in a loss in 1972.

#4. Jack McDowell, 1991 -- 9IP, 4H, 1R, 1BB, 10K

It's hard to believe by looking at that line and the 10-1 final score, but the Sox actually came from behind in this game. McDowell got himself in a bit of trouble in the first with a 2-out single to Cal Ripken followed by a double off the bat of Glenn Davis. But a White Sox lineup that featured 3 future Hall-of-Famers (2 still outstanding) and some guy who hit over 600 homeruns powered them back.

#3. Wilbur Wood, 1976 -- 9 IP, 6H, 0R, 2BB, 7K

Not much more you can do than throw a complete game shutout. Wood allowed 6 hits, all singles, and the Sox rolled 4-0 over the Royals. This might have been the highlight of the year, as the Sox managed just 63 more victories on the season.

#2. Billy Pierce, 1957 -- 11 IP, 8H, 2R, 3BB, 9K

It's hard to get much better than a complete game shutout, but that's just what we've got here at the top... It was a different type of baseball being played back then. While no pitch counts are available, Pierce figures to have thrown in excess of 150 pitches in his 11 inning outing. Herb Score got the complete game loss for the Indians, and given his 11 BB, 10K line, I have to think he approached 200 pitches.

[Update by The Cheat, 04/06/09 11:01 PM CDT]: Pierce agrees:

"Times have changed," Pierce said. "Six innings is what a starter is expected to pull mainly nowadays. When we got the ball, they gave it to us and they kind of expected us to go nine."

"I never heard of the rotator cuff when I played," Pierce said. "Back in those days, if a person probably had that (shoulder injury), they were done. Except for rest and physical therapy (for a sore arm), that's all we had."

#1. Mark Buehrle, 2005 -- 8 IP, 2H, 0R, 1BB, 5K, 1 World Series run started

Buehrle had a perfect game after 4, faced the minimum through 6, and allowed just three baserunners total. Cleveland didn't put a man in scoring position until the 7th inning, and Buehrle immediately erased that situation with a GIDP off the bat of Victor Martinez.

You could argue that any of the other complete game performances listed above were better than Buehrle's outing, but none came with absolutely zero margin for error -- the Sox didn't score their only run until the bottom of the 7th -- and none marked the start of a World Series run.

Bonus Opening Day info: Nellie Fox holds the White Sox record (retrosheet era) for hits in an opening day game with 5 in 1959.

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