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KC@CWS: Sale pitches 7 2/3 shutout innings in opener

While the White Sox will be remembering 1983 with their throwback uniforms on the first Sunday of the 2013 season, their starting pitcher will be hoping for a throwback to Monday.

Chris Sale couldn't have done much better in his first Opening Day assignment against the Royals, outdueling James Shields in 7 2/3 innings of shutout ball.

"That was fun, it was exciting. It was everything I thought it would be and more," Sale said after a 1-0 White Sox victory.

With all the fanfare of Opening Day out of the picture, Sale will be matched against right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, who is coming off a strong opening performance of his own, in the rubber game of a three-game set on Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field. Iwakuma allowed one run on two hits with no walks and seven strikeouts in six innings against the A's.

The veteran from Japan went 8-4 with a 2.65 ERA, a Mariners rookie record, in 16 starts last season after moving into the rotation at midseason. After posting a 1.83 ERA in his last nine starts of 2012, he picked up where he left off on Tuesday.

But Iwakuma left his Opening Day start when a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand began flaring up after bothering him in his last start of the spring as well.

"I felt fine from the get-go. But as we went along, it started to get a little tender. So 88 pitches was good enough," Iwakuma said through a translator.

Mariners: Gutierrez gets a rest
Center fielder Franklin Gutierrez, who was eased into regular action at the end of Spring Training to combat leg soreness, was out of the starting lineup on Saturday but is expected to return Sunday. He struck out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning.

Gutierrez started the season hot at the top of the Mariners' lineup, going 7-for-17 with hits in the first five games, but manager Eric Wedge decided Saturday was a good time to give him a day to help keep him healthy for the long term.

"It's just about when I feel Gut needs a day," Wedge said. "I'm trying to keep him ahead of it. It was a long night last night and with the cold weather and everything, I felt like it was the smart thing to give him a day."

• Second baseman Dustin Ackley's struggles at the plate continued with an 0-for-3 performance on Saturday, dropping him to 1-for-19 for the season.

White Sox: Bullpen's versatility a key
The White Sox used five relievers, including Addison Reed for his third save, to hold on to a 4-3 victory over the Mariners on Saturday, providing another example of how the team's bullpen will play a large part in their season. The night before, Hector Santiago threw 48 pitches in three innings and Matt Lindstrom logged 2 1/3 innings of relief -- and both could be used in the late innings the next time out, giving manager Robin Ventura a versatile bullpen crew.

"One day, I can be the long guy. The next day, I can come back and face the lefty and have a day off, and be in the ninth inning and finish the game," Santiago said.

• White Sox starter Jake Peavy will be presented with his 2012 Gold Glove Award before Sunday's game. With Mark Buehrle winning in 2009-11, the White Sox have claimed the last four AL awards for pitchers.

Worth noting
• The White Sox have won 12 of their last 14 games vs. Seattle, including 25 of 30 since the start of the 2010 season.

• After Sunday's finale, the White Sox travel to the nation's capital for their earliest Interleague Series ever, matching up with the Nationals on Tuesday.

• The Mariners, having begun with seven road games, will mark their home opener against the Astros to begin a 10-game homestand on Monday. Comments