The finale of the season-opening three-game set at Kauffman Stadium followed the template set in the first two: One starter outpitches the other, but late-game wobbles with the bullpen made it closer than it had any business being.
Thanks to Lucas Giolito, the White Sox managed to be on the winning end of it this time.
Giolito opened his 2018 season with a four-pitch walk to Whit Merrifield … then kept all Royals off the bases for the next 6⅓ innings. Alex Gordon ended the no-hit bid on the Danny Wright Line by lining a 2-2 curveball into center field, and the Royals tagged him for two more hits and two runs before he could get the third out of the inning. However, the White Sox had given him a 6-0 lead, so we’re allowed to focus on everything that happened before then.
In short, Giolito had everything working. He got 15 swinging strikes out of 99 pitches, and on four different pitches. He got six on a fastball that averaged 93.5 mph, and while his curve wasn’t as effective as he might’ve hoped, his slider came in to provide a different look later in the game.
As a result, Kansas City’s speed never factored into the equation. I suppose you can also credit Yonder Alonso, whose diving catch on a Billy Hamilton liner in the sixth kept the fastest Royal off the bases.
One can also credit Alonso for helping the Sox get comfortable. He didn’t give the Sox their lead of the year — that was Jose Abreu, with a mammoth 437-foot homer into the fountains — but Alonso went back-to-back on back-to-back pitches. His first White Sox hit was also his first White Sox homer, and the Sox turned the tables on what had been an effective Jorge Lopez in the fourth for a 2-0 lead.
The Sox tacked on two more runs two innings later without a hit in scoring position. Leury García singled and Yoan Moncada doubled, and Lopez pitched around Abreu to load the bases. Up came Alonso, and Ned Yost countered with sidewinding lefty Tim Hill.
Alonso saw six pitches and shouldn’t have swung at any of them, but he laid off four for a run-scoring walk. Eloy Jiménez saw five pitches, all out of the zone, and he drew a walk for another non-hit RBI.
Of course, Daniel Palka bounced into a double play on the first pitch he saw from Hill, and Tim Anderson then grounded out on Kevin McCarthy’s first pitch. After those two walks, the Royals only needed two pitches to get three outs.
The Sox were able to chase that aftertaste in the seventh. Just when it looked like James McCann’s leadoff double would be stranded at third, Moncada served the first pitch into center for an RBI, and after another Abreu walk, Alonso roped his own single to right for his third RBI of the game.
The insurance was necessary, first because Giolito couldn’t finish the seventh after losing the no-hitter and shutout bids in successive order. Ryan Burr finished that inning.
Maybe Burr should’ve started the eighth, because Kelvin Herrera didn’t look great. He gave up a series of well-hit balls, a couple of which could’ve been converted into outs. Martin Maldonado led off with a double inside the third-base line. After Hamilton lined out to center, Merrifield hit his own smash toward third. Moncada gloved it, but he double-clutched while lining up his body toward first, and his throw pulled Abreu off the bag for a “single.” One batter later, Adalberto Mondesi’s smash up the middle ramped off Tim Anderson into center field. The Royals cut the lead to 6-3 and brought the tying run to the plate.
Fortunately, Herrera induced a couple flyouts to end the inning, and Alex Colome made easy work of the ninth for his first save in a White Sox uniform.
*Moncada’s no-strikeout dream is over, as he fanned his first two times up against Lopez. He ended up salvaging his afternoon with two singles and two runs scored.
*Abreu, Alonso and Jiménez drew the Sox’ five walks from the 3-4-5 spots in the order.
*Palka is the last hitless regular, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout.
Record: 1-2 | Box score | Highlights
Big fan of players taking their walks and hitting dingers. More of that, please.
Good game, good rebuild win. It’s great seeing Moncada hit well. Jimenez did hit the ball hard twice too. I think Moncada having a good season is more important for the rebuild than Jimenez performing well right away. Moncada is the player who if he hits well can really fast forward the rebuild. If he performs to his potential, his on base skills and decent power can drive the Sox to a decent offense.
Lucas really looked great out there. Composed, confident, and a lot less falling over. I didn’t catch any of his spring starts, but I was impressed watching him today.
Was it exciting to bust out this new Sox Win hero graphic ?
“Moncada served the first pitch into center for an RBI”
Yoan walked up looking for something to hit first pitch. It might have been outside, but looking to bring in the man on 3rd, he lifted if over the infield. That’s maturity. He is going to take a big step forward this year.
I think the Sox will hit the most Home Runs this year since 2008.
That would 212 or more.
Impressive go of it by Giolito. Disappointed in the apparent lack of communication between players in this series. White Sox are very lucky no one was seriously injured. Need to focus on some drills and reminders on how to handle pop-up/fly ball plays!
Giolito to the rescue – who woulda thought?
On the bullet points, wasn’t one of Moncada’s hits a double?
Indians are trash and the last time the Sox won the division they started out 0-2 and then 1-2 just like this time. We’re taking it to the house
In which we all shift to consider that maybe Giolito’s the good one.
Very encouraging start. Not much in the way of luck / fluke to point to either.
Velocity up a tick, located his pitches, had the off-speed stuff working, and doubled last year’s whiff rate.
Cautiously optimistic that it wasn’t just because of the Royals.
Yeah, I don’t know if he would have had quite as good of a start against a decent hitting team. He probably would have still had a quality start even facing a better team though.
If he’s throwing 94 mph fastballs he’ll be effective against anybody. That’s all it comes down to with him.
If he can keep the movement, too. Fegan pointed out his fourseam flattened last year and he had to switch to the sinker.
See also Lopez for even better velocity with shitty movement.
And throw strikes.
I’m convinced that it’s all connected for him and it all comes down to his fastball. When his velocity is down, he can’t get strikes in the zone and his offspeed stuff plays down. When he can’t get strikes in the zone, he nibbles, and he doesn’t have the command to nibble effectively. I did a little research project and last year you can basically break his season down into 3 chunks – starts 1-14, with bad velocity; starts 15-29, with good velocity, and starts 30-32, when his velocity slumped again. FIPs for those chunks: 1-14: 6.36. 15-29: 4.84. 30-32: 6.02. He’s not lighting the world on fire with a 4.84 but it’s some polish away from respectability.
The centerpieces of the two trades to start the rebuild were Moncada and Giolito. This weekend shows why. Let’s hope this conitnues through the season. If these two are good, it will make this rebuild go a lot more smoothly.
This graphic is also awesome, Jim/Billy.
Thanks Greg! BTW I looked at your portfolio over this weekend, really cool!
As a bonus, the Cubs just lost to the vaunted Rangers on a wild pitch.
Giolito and Moncada taking big steps forward could make this season a lot more fun.
nice first win. Will be interesting to see how we fare against the tribe in this first series
Bogaerts close to extension with Red Sox…
That free agent class dried up real quick.
It’s almost like when a generational opportunity lands in your lap you don’t screw it up by being cheap. ?
What an utterly inept front office.
And a miserly owner..We have to figure the cute contract offer to Machado was because ole Jerry didn’t want to spend and much as he should of.
Rick Hahn admitted to Barstool Sports that he didn’t feel comfortable guaranteeing 10 years to Machado.
Which is still either dumb because it locks them out of a tier of talent they don’t either develop themselves or back into by trading away their own generational talent, or dishonest because it relies on false assumptions about how difficult it is to move long contracts.
I have to think that no GM feels especially comfortable with 10 yr deals. But either the org is in the mix for such players or it isn’t.
No GM wants 10 year contracts but they also don’t want $40-50m salaries.
It was so predictably dumb. The teams that signed these guys will reap the surplus value windfall early then trade their way out from the break-even or break-bad years and still come away with some kind of prospect reward for the contracts.
Meanwhile, the Sox are going to end up paying more per win signing less talented players and trading for the shitty part of other teams’ contracts.
Any chance that they can identify some similarly dumb organization and trade for their young studs and sign them to extensions?
Depends on whether you think Davidson or Eaton is more representative of the team’s competence.
You also left out the part where they trade that guy for prospects 3 or 4 years after he reaches the majors.
I don’t like that part.
Only if they throw in a ton of money.
That depends on the quality of prospect being sought. And even in the case of the Mariners getting 2 former first-rounders back for Cano, taking 1 year of Bruce’s contract and including a closer they didn’t need anymore isn’t all that onerous.
Looking forward to big years on offense from Tim, Abreu, Yoan, and Eloy. On the flip side, the defense looks like it’s gonna lead to some pretty eye-popping FIP numbers for the pitching staff when it’s all said and done.
I think it’ll get better. Timmy and Yolmer will settle in, Engel and Jay will get time over Leury and Palka.
And much of it seems to be communication issues, which are more fixable than physical issues.