Two hundred and ninety-nine days after the White Sox last played a regular season game, they returned to the field to take on the Minnesota Twins at a fanless Guaranteed Rate Field for the start of the pandemic-abbreviated 60-game sprint.
To sum up what the first night of the season taught us:
- The Twins offense is still very good.
- A week is longer than you think.
Lucas Giolito’s first pitch of the game left the yard, defensive miscues from Leury García at second base compounded his issues, and while the White Sox were able to dig out of one hole, the Twins’ second burial did the trick.
The White Sox were down 4-0 before they came to the plate, but Giolito was only responsible for one of those runs, as off as he was. Kepler got around on an inside-corner fastball and hoisted it just over the wall in right for a quick lead, but after Giolito walked Josh Donaldson, he came back to get a double-play ball off the bat off Jorge Polanco. It should’ve been 6-4-3, but García bobbled the exchange at second despite an ideal toss from Tim Anderson, so it was only 6-4. When Giolito then got Nelson Cruz to bounce to the left side of second, a shifted García gloved it. Instead of throwing to first to get the plodding Cruz, he flipped to Anderson, who was far away from second and lost the footrace to Polanco.
Ten pitches in, Giolito should have recorded three outs with just one run on the board, and headed to the dugout to regroup. Instead, he stayed out there for 20 more pitches as he struggled to stay on top of his fastball/changeup combo. He walked Eddie Rosario to load the bases, gave up a sac fly to Mitch Garver, then a two-run single to Jake Cave before a strikeout of Miguel Sano ended the inning.
Kepler homered off Giolito in the second inning as well, but the Sox managed to reset the scorebord by the bottom of that frame, even with Jose Berríos pitching.
After getting one run back in the first on a José Abreu groundout but leaving another on base, the Sox made up for it in the second. Eloy Jiménez’s leadoff single came around to score on #WILDPITCHOFFENSE, but with the bases empty, Berríos managed to start another rally by walking García with two outs. Tim Anderson shot a single to left, and Yoán Moncada followed with a no-doubt blast to right for a game-tying three-run shot.
But the White Sox didn’t have another counterpunch in them, and the Twins worked the body for crooked numbers in two later innings.
Giolito alternated singles and outs to open the fourth, but his bases-loading walk of Donaldson brought Rick Renteria to the mound. He called on Evan Marshall to face Polanco, and while Marshall got the weak contact he’s known for, it resulted in a flared two-run single to center field that made it a 7-5 game, and the Sox trailed the rest of the night.
In the seventh, it was Jimmy Cordero’s turn for bad batted-ball luck. After giving up a single through the middle to Polanco, he got Cruz to hit a shot right toward García at second. Problem was, it clipped the inner lip of the infield and shot over García head into center to put runners in the corners. Renteria then went to Aaron Bummer, but it wasn’t his night. He allowed both inherited runners to score, as well as one of his own.
White Sox debuts
In order from most successful to least successful…
Luis Robert: Rifled the first pitch he saw into left field at 115.8 mph for his first major-league hit, then capped off his night with a ringing double to the base of the wall in right. In between, he flared out to right and struck out.
Codi Heuer: The seventh White Sox pitcher of the night did his job, pitching a straightforward 1-2-3 inning with the Sox trailing by 5 in the ninth. Garver isn’t a bad first strikeout victim.
Yasmani Grandal: He didn’t impress on either side of the ball. He allowed a blockable wild pitch in Giolito’s rough first inning, then had a passed ball after getting crossed up on an Evan Marshall fastball. He also failed to drive in a runner from third with one out in the first, rolling over a Berríos changeup with an uncertain swing on the first pitch. He at least drew a walk.
Edwin Encarnación: He went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and a popout, missing a couple of driveable pitches. He should have been able to reach on an error, but Polanco’s throw from short hit Encarnacíon on the side of the knee when he was two steps from the bag, and he ended up stumbling over the top of first base without touching it. He was tagged out while lying on the ground.
The aforementioned long week
There are two problems with forcing Nick Madrigal to start the season in Schaumburg to wrestle a year of team control from him: It puts a worse defender at second in García, and with García obligated the infield, the options in right field are dreadful.
Both trouble spots wasted no time acting up on them. García mishandled two plays, then let another grounder get past him despite a diving attempt. Nicky Delmonico, meanwhile, went 0-for-4 with four stranded at the plate, and his contact was miserable. The exit velocities were 59.4 mph (GIDP), 72.5 mph (groundout), 81.9 mph (popout), and 46.1 mph (popout).
The Twins announced that they were scratching Rich Hill from Saturday’s start and using Randy Dobnak instead, and part of me wondered if they wanted to encourage Renteria to keep the same lineup.
*Berríos didn’t rise to the occasion on the Opening Day start, either. He allowed five runs over four innings, and only recorded one strikeout. His breaking ball spun on him.
*The Twins bullpen, on the other hand, allowed just four baserunners over five innings while striking out seven.
*While Bummer struggled, Jace Fry looked like his best self. He retired all four batters he faced with ease.
*The White Sox’s nine hits all came from multi-hit efforts: Anderson (2-for-5), Moncada (3-for-5), jiménez (2-for-3 with a walk) and Robert (2-for-4).
*Anderson passed his first test of the season, ranging to his right and throwing across his body for a force at second.
*Jason Benetti and Steve Stone made it sound relatively normal.
Record: 0-1 | Box score | Statcast
It entirely possible both of the following are true:
This is the best Sox team of the last decade
This Sox team is appreciably worse than the reigning division champs that beat them by 29 games last year
The 2012 team might very well be better than this team and there’s also a case for the 2011 team.
If Giolito takes a step back and no one else steps forward, this team isn’t going anywhere.
Wow, if you think this team is worse than the 2012 team, you’re crazy. There was no one on that team like Eloy or Robert or Moncada or Timmy or Grandal. And if Hahn/Jerry weren’t so cheap and Madrigal was playing 2nd base, Giolito would have likely had a good start. This loss is on Hahn, plain and simple. Trying to gain another year from a guy who will probably never demand a massive contract is stupid. But if he’s at 2nd yesterday, Giolito probably gets out of the 1st with 10 pitches and it’s an entirely different game. And I never thought I’d say I really miss Mazara, but Delmonico is dreadful.
And on top of that, the 2012 team was managed by Robin. That alone disqualifies them from being a good team.
The 2012 team almost won the division, had a better pitching staff, and featured 6 average to above average players. It lacks a star like Moncada, but you’re assuming Eloy is going to be better than 2012 Dunn or that Robert will be great right out of the gate. The 2012 was solid. The 2020 is probably solid. But this is far from a very good team.
Did everyone see Gio Gonzales warming up in the first?
It’s gonna happen, people!
Won’t believe it till I see it
Ugh…I forgot just how bad Leury is in the infield. End the experiment now and play Mendick at 2B for the rest of the week, handedness be damned. Leury moves to RF and all is right with the world.
But Leury can’t hit righties. He’s not much better than Delmonico in right field.
People said we wouldn’t notice the defensive difference too much between Leury/Mendick and Madrigal in just a week… And look how that turned out.
Leury is a better fielder than Delmonico is. And while Leury’s splits vs RHP aren’t good, he had a much better night offensively than delmonico did.
Leury in Right and Madrigal in second is how they should have started the year. After last night, They cannot afford to play Leury at 2b. Play Mendick there. From there, I think Leury is the clear choice for RF over Delmonico. Hes better defensively and arguably better offensively against RHP despite the splits. And even if he isn’t hes a switch hitter so is more useful against the bullpen anyways.
I agree that’s how they should have started. But when Leury is your first option in the outfield after the top 3, that’s not good. And yes, Leury should not start another game at 2nd.
I’d rather see them give Basabe a chance. He can’t be worse than Delmonico.
Only Delmonico can be worse than Delmonico
I sincerely hope that extra year of control over Madrigal is worth it in 2026.
Seriously though, had Madrigal been at 2B like he should’ve been last night, I would’ve been perfectly fine with Garcia playing in RF over Delmonico. His outfield defense is adequate and he can usually manage to find ways to get on base more often than Nicky, who to me, hasn’t looked like a major leaguer since probably 2017.
Delmonico should not be in the majors, not even for the Tigers or O’s. He’s 28 and hasn’t shown anything in two years. Insulting to use that Hahn has him on the team.
I get the extra year of control thing…actually I don’t get it, but I thought we didn’t retain Yolmer Sanchez because we had Madrigal-Mendick more efficient way to replace him. Instead, Mendick was nowhere to be seen, and Madrigal is playing metras somewhere in a German-named town while the Sox plays a suspect 2B.
We are playing handedness with Leury and Delmonico? Fuck that…They don’t pose a threat in neither side of the plate. If you are gonna use subpar players, at least use them where one part of the game (defense) is strong. In my off season plan, I advocate keeping Yolmer Sanchez over Leury whom I didn’t even tender. Sanchez at least is good at something, and not only good, but really good. Leury is a jack of all trades and master of none. And it showed.
I expect to see Mendick at 2B tonight.
Before the game, Patrick posts a preview where he talks about the advantages the Twins received by not trotting out any obvious holes in their lineup.
Hours later, the White Sox lose, partially because they’re content to trot out black holes both in the field (Leury) and at the plate (Delmonico).
I would be more amenable to these service time games if I thought that the front office was going to use the money saved to go after a big free agent to put them over the top. But it’s starting to feel like there’s a greater chance that Reinsdorf takes the lead on a labor fight than actually sign a Tier 1 free agent.
So the Sox Lineup is up for today is up on the MLB app….
Mccann starting at catcher, Grandal not even at DH, and Leury still at 2b.
An injury/COVID/Off field issue is the only sane explanation for starting Grandal for Giolito and Mccann for Keuchel; and to not even DH Grandal instead of EE against a RHP.
Yeah, Grandal must be really tired catching one day in a row. In a 60-game season, you can’t be giving games away. Playing Leury at 2nd with a ground ball pitcher is not good managing.
You forgot to mention Delmonico is hitting 6th!!! In front of Robert.
What!?! That’s just plain stupid.
Yep, and the lineup is official.
Lets hope this is just criminally negligent managing and not a sign Yasmani has a positive COVID-19 test.
I woke up, saw the lineup on my phone, and came here just to say this. Two games in, and I’m about done with Ricky. Him and his stupid lineup “balance.” He feels like the world is going to end if he bats more than three righties in a row. Hey Ricky, how many lefties did you force Minnesota to throw yesterday to get Delmonico out?
I am sorry..how much money are we paying Grandal again?…a day off in a shortened season after just 1 measly game?
Renteria just Ventura’ed it
How can you purposely put out a subpar offensive and defensive lineup in Game 2 of the season against your main division rival? I hope someone explains this. Maybe Robin is still calling the shots.
Grandal did nothing last night grabbing extra low strikes. I wonder if McCann would have called a better game for Giolito last night. They had a special rapport last year. Might that have been some of the issue?
I bruised my wrist last night when I slammed my hand into a door in the first inning. My body can’t take 59 more games of this. I waited all winter, all spring, and half the summer to see Grandal do nothing on either side of the ball, service-time games cost the Sox 10% of their opportunity against their chief rival, and Encarnacion bound over first base as if it were his fallen mother and he didn’t want to crush her. I hope EE being tagged out as he lay on the ground past first isn’t the enduring image of 2020.
Lest you have any doubt, I’m in a foul mood. But hey, at least the virus is going away, the economy is roaring back, social justice exists for all Americans, and democracy is on a firm footing.
But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?
Don’t get me started…
How DARE the Sox play like the Sox!?