Mark Buehrle seemed to be trying too hard in his opening outing of the season; he had no changeup, couldn't spot his fastball, and was popping the glove about 1 or 2 MPH faster than normal. He seemed to be overthrowing to quiet the Johnny Conditioning crowd. But Buehrle put that un-Buehrlelike performance behind him Sunday, and did what he does best, pitching instead of throwing.
Buehrle's velocity was down from his opening day start (Graphs: Game 1, Game 2), but his pitches were more precise, more Buehrle-like. His only mistake was a center-cut fastball to Delmon Young that was left too high in the zone for Young to ground to short. After the HR to Young, Buehrle seemed to be toying with the Twins, setting down the last 15 batters he faced.
I assume they pulled him from the game solely based on pitch count (95), and a desire to keep Buehrle healthy for the length of the season. But it sure seemed like he could have breezed through at least two more batters in the 7th.
Offensively, the Sox started slowly, going down in order in their first two innings. Nick Blackburn was not sharp early, falling behind 5 of the first 6 White Sox hitters, but the Sox couldn't capitalize. Their lone run in the first 5 innings came thanks to a Twins error from Michael Cuddyer who was playing out of position at 1B. But the Sox broke through in the 6th.
A Carlos Quentin infield single (out-Twinning the Twins) set up the Sox big blow from the bat of Jim Thome. On 3-2, Thome popped up into foul ground behind third base near the railing. Joe Crede had a bead on the ball, but slid a bit too early in an attempt to avoid the tarp, letting the ball fall on top of the tarp just out of glove's reach. One pitch later, Thome turned around a Blackburn fastball and put it in the right field seats to give the Sox the lead for good.
Josh Fields and Quentin provided insurance in the 7th with an opposite field single and sacrifice fly. The sacrifice was especially pleasing, as Quentin's fly ball was quite shallow, but Brent Lillibridge, who entered the game after Chris Getz was hit by a pitch, sped home scoring easily. Lillibride and Jeff Cox may have caught Denard Span napping, as he sneaked a peak at third base before taking an extra step and coming home with the throw. Speed kills!
Clayton Richard performed his best Jose Paniagua impression in the 9th, giving up infield and hard-hit singles before walking the bases loaded on straight pitches, neccessitating the call to the pen for Jenks, who put out the fire in two batters.