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Gov. Pat Quinn said Thursday was “Mark Buehrle Day,” but it looked more like “Nick Swisher Day” from here.
In his own way, Ozzie Guillen paid tribute to the guy who wouldn’t acknowledge him by playing a No. 30 with noteworthy facial hair out of position in center while batting him leadoff — the same two spots Swisher accepted in a bipolarly enthusiastic-yet-reluctant manner. Mark Kotsay followed suit with an 0-for-4.
Swisher broke out his best Swisher impression, striking out three times (including two trademark backwards Ks) before hitting a homer nobody on the Sox wanted to celebrate.
(Matt Thornton threw 17 of 19 pitches for strikes. Unfortunately, he threw two right down the middle to Swisher. Not a particularly good idea, with umpire Ted Barrett’s wide zone frustrating hitters all night long. Still, I liked the idea of making Thornton record four outs, even if it took Bobby Jenks battling kidney stones to do it.)
Capping it off, the game came down to the smoldering ruins of the Swisher trade — Dewayne Wise. The sixth outfielder who made his mark as Swisher tailed off last season came to the plate with the game-winning run on second.
Wise wasn’t even supposed to hit on Thursday. He entered the game as a defensive replacement for Carlos Quentin and somehow ended up the hero under extraordinary circumstances:
*Wise only had nine at-bats all year against left-handed pitchers before facing Phil Coke, who entered the game holding lefties to a .209 OBP.
*The run Wise drove in came on Phil Hughes’ tab. It’s the first run Hughes allowed — counting inherited runners — since June 14, snapping a streak of 21 scoreless innings over 16 appearances.
*It raised the batting average of White Sox subs to over .100 (10-for-92).
Maybe Wise enjoys stealing Swisher’s thunder, or maybe he feels pressure to keep his name in the New York tabloids one way or another. Either way, Wise now has the biggest hit of the season to go along with the biggest catch of the season, and I don’t know whether that’s a good or bad thing.