CLEVELAND -- Before Fausto Carmona threw the first pitch in the 2011 season opener between the White Sox and Indians on Friday at Progressive Field, Mark Buehrle made a request of his offense.
"I told the guys in the first inning, 'Go out and get me five.' They got me two," said Buehrle of his team's early output. "They said, 'Hey, is that enough?' I said, 'No, keep them coming.'"
The White Sox offense eventually reached 14 after 3 1/2 innings, presenting Buehrle with a two-touchdown cushion and just 18 outs left to be recorded.
"When we got to 14, I said, 'All right, I think that's probably good. Save some for [starter Edwin] Jackson tomorrow,'" said Buehrle with a laugh.
It turned out Buehrle's feeling of safety with 14 runs was accurate but not quite as comfortable as he expected. The Indians rallied to put thoughts of warming up closer Matt Thornton into the White Sox mindset and had the tying run nearby, if not immediately on deck, before succumbing in a strange 15-10 final.
These two teams combined for 35 hits, with 18 coming from the White Sox, and scored the most combined runs in an Opening Day contest since April 5, 1983, when the Padres topped the Giants by a 16-13 margin. Adam Dunn homered and drove in four during his White Sox debut, Carlos Quentin went deep and produced five RBIs and Gordon Beckham chipped in three hits.
As dominant as the White Sox offense proved to be on this day, with six starters producing multi-hit efforts, the bullpen went the opposite way in an extremely shaky first appearance.
Nonetheless, manager Ozzie Guillen wasn't worried about style points in raising his Opening Day record as a manager to 5-3.
"We won. We are pretty good. We started very well. We are hot," said Guillen with a laugh. "Our offense was very good. We did a tremendous job against Carmona, making him pitch, making him throw strikes. My bullpen was a little shaky today, but that's going to happen."
"If we didn't have that big of a lead, it might have been a little bit different," said Buehrle, who raised his Opening Day record to 4-1 with a 3.76 ERA over a franchise-record nine Opening Day starts. "I think if it was a closer game, the bullpen would have done a little bit better than what they did."
Sitting with a 14-0 lead, Buehrle admitted to throwing only fastballs in cruising through the fourth and fifth innings, before the Indians got to him for a four-spot in his sixth and final frame. Will Ohman gave up three runs in the seventh, with left-handed hitting Jack Hannahan going deep as well as switch-hitting catcher Carlos Santana, before Tony Pena recorded the inning's final out.
Cleveland had two on and two out in the eighth, cutting the lead to 15-9, before Chris Sale fanned Shin-Soo Choo. It was the first strikeout of the game recorded by the White Sox.
Another run in the ninth and two runners on base against Jesse Crain once again raised the South Siders' blood pressure. But Crain fanned Hannahan to put to rest an impressive late-inning Indians uprising.
"Unfortunately we had one bad inning there, but you can never really count this team out," said Hannahan, who finished with three hits. "We came back and we put some good at-bats together and got some big two-out hits. That's what you gotta do to win games."
"That's the hardest part to do when you are up big or down big, is to come out and stay focused on your at-bats," said Dunn of the Indians' rally. "Those dudes, man, they can swing the bat."
Four two-strike hits in the opening frame off Carmona, who allowed 10 earned runs on 11 hits over three-plus innings, gave the White Sox a 2-0 lead. Dunn struck out with runners on second and third and nobody out in the first, but lofted a 386-foot home run to right during a four-run third.
Beckham, who was running on the 3-2 pitch, lost track of where the towering drive landed. Dunn ranks third all-time with seven career Opening Day home runs, trailing only Frank Robinson and Ken Griffey Jr., who have eight apiece.
"He's a force," said Beckham of Dunn. "You want people to get on in front of Adam Dunn because he can go deep any time, under any conditions. It's good to have him. He puts fear in opposing teams and that is invaluable."
"I'm assuming we are going to do this every time," said Dunn with a wry smile of the team's overall explosion on offense.
Quentin finished a triple short of the cycle, including a third-inning home run off Carmona confirmed by umpires' review. Rookie third baseman Brent Morel chipped in with two hits and two RBIs from the ninth spot in the order, and during an eight-run fourth, every White Sox player but Alex Rios reached base safely and every player but Paul Konerko and Juan Pierre had at least one hit.
Scoring 15 runs marked the White Sox highest Opening Day output since a 17-3 victory at St. Louis in 1951. They appeared to be on their way to another 14-run blowout on Friday, but even with the late scare, any win seems sweet on Opening Day.
"Hitting, it's a thing you don't talk about too much because when it's going well, you want to leave it as it is," Quentin said. "Guys got some hits and we'll enjoy it tonight and come back tomorrow and have another day of baseball. Don't change anything, just go ahead and compete."