Thome homers in Chicago debut as Sox beat Indians

CHICAGO (AP) -- The Chicago White Sox celebrated the past. Then

newcomer Jim Thome showed them the promise of a new season.

Thome hit a two-run homer after a nearly three-hour rain delay

and the defending World Series champions beat the Cleveland Indians

10-4 Sunday night in the major league opener, a game that didn't

end until 2:10 a.m. ET.

Thome played his first 12 seasons with the Indians before

spending the last three in Philadelphia. Facing Cleveland for the

first time, he drove out a long homer in a three-run fourth inning

off reliever Fernando Cabrera and made his first curtain call at

U.S. Cellular Field.

"It was really special against the team you played for," Thome

said. "The crowd the way they showed up was great. ... I think

everyone knows my history in Cleveland, very fond memories. ... It

was neat. It brought back a lot of memories."

Cleveland, which chased Chicago for the AL Central title a year

ago only to falter in the final week, sustained an early loss when

starter C.C. Sabathia had to leave after 2 1/3 innings after he

strained an abdominal muscle while delivering a pitch. He will be

re-examined Monday.

"It was just the one pitch," Sabathia said. "I don't know

what caused it. I threw the pitch, tried to get it on Iguchi and I

just felt it grab me a little bit."

Indians manager Eric Wedge said the injury could potentially

send the big left-hander to the disabled list. "It's just a matter

of how bad it is," he said.

Brandon McCarthy, who replaced starter Mark Buehrle after the

long delay, pitched three perfect innings for the victory.

After the 2-hour, 57-minute delay, the game resumed in the

bottom of the fourth and, after Cabrera (0-1) walked the first two

hitters, the rain began to come down again.

Tadahito Iguchi's sacrifice fly gave the White Sox a 4-3 lead

and Thome delivered a long shot to right through the rain for a

three-run cushion. A.J. Pierzynski hit an RBI single and rookie

Brian Anderson a two-run single in the fifth to make it 9-3 as the

skies finally cleared.

World Series MVP Jermaine Dye, who got the first hit of the 2006

season with an infield roller, singled in another run in the sixth.

The attendance was announced at 38,802 -- a sellout -- and about a

one-fourth of the crowd stayed around for the resumption of the

game after a long wait.

But White Sox fans know how to wait -- 88 years between World

Series winners.

Chicago clinched all three of its playoff series on the road

last season. And despite a wild parade through the streets of the

city, Sunday night presented the first chance for the White Sox and

their followers to celebrate in their own ballpark.

When the final out of last October's Game 4 clincher in Houston

was replayed on the large center-field scoreboard at the end of a

video retrospective, four championship banners hanging beneath

outfield light poles were uncovered and fireworks went off.

One banner saluted the club's World Series championships in 1906

and 1917, another was for last year's winner, a third hailed the

team's AL championship and the fourth marked its division winners.

After the fireworks, another video tribute followed, accompanied by

Queen's "We Are The Champions."

"It was great. It was a great experience. I really enjoyed

it," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I've had a lot of

opening days in my life, but I think that was really special. It

was the best one I've ever been in."

The fans agreed.

"It was awesome. This is really exciting," Pat Valiska of

suburban Highland Park said. "We've waited a long time for this."

The ceremony also featured the unfurling of an American flag as

big as the outfield during the playing of "The Star-Spangled

Banner" and then a knee-knocking flyover by two jets.

Worst Opening Day Records Since 1990













And in the bottom of the third, the White Sox looked like the

team that went 11-1 in the playoffs last year, scoring three off


Juan Uribe walked and Anderson hit a liner to left that went off

the top of Jason Michaels' glove for a double. Scott Podsednik hit

an RBI grounder and Iguchi followed with an RBI single.

As he delivered that pitch to Iguchi, Sabathia felt the strain.

Wedge and a trainer came out of the dugout and after Sabathia threw

a couple of warmup tosses, he was forced to leave the game.

Reliever Danny Graves walked Thome and then made a wild pickoff

throw to second, allowing the runners to advance. Paul Konerko then

hit a sacrifice fly and it was 3-0.

But the Indians tied it quickly in the top of the fourth off

Mark Buehrle on Victor Martinez's double and a towering two-run

homer by Eduardo Perez, playing his first game with the Indians.Game notes
Thome has 431 homers, tying him for 35th place with Cal

Ripken. ...The White Sox also beat the Indians in the 2005 opener,

winning 1-0 as Buehrle and Shingo Takatsu combined on a two-hitter.

That game took just 1:51 to play.