White Sox 3, Mariners 2: Luis Robert makes all the difference

On one hand, the White Sox should treat Vince Velasquez victories as found money.

On the other, when the game sets up in such a fashion that Luis Robert can take charge of the action, it’s hard to call it a lucky day.

In the third inning, Robert took away multiple bases (and runs) with a leaping catch at the wall in center. In the sixth, he crushed a rolling Matt Brash breaking ball several rows deep to the opposite alley for the White Sox’s first lead of the game. In the eighth, he reached on a walk, stole two bases and scored when Eloy Jiménez beat out a potential double-play ball for an insurance run Liam Hendriks ended up using.

Robert’s feats aside, little else looked easy, but the White Sox still came away with a victory in the home opener in front of a sold-out Guaranteed Rate Field.

On a different day, Velasquez might’ve been on the hook for the loss. He walked more batters (three) than he struck out (two), gave up a solo shot to Eugenio Suárez, and needed just about every foot of the field just right of center to keep Jesse Winker in the park courtesy of Robert.

However it happened, Velasquez allowed just the one run over four innings, throwing 36 of 62 pitches for strikes. He threw five different kinds of pitches, none of which seemed to baffle the Mariners, but it got the job done.

Brash took the loss in his MLB debut despite out-pitching his counterpart. He induced a lot of awkward swings on his sharp knuckle curve, and got through five innings with just one run on his tab. It should’ve been unearned, as J.P. Crawford booted Tim Anderson’s routine double-play ball, which scored Josh Harrison to tie the game at 1 after three.

He threw 51 knuckle curves out of 85, including three consecutive ones to Robert in their third head-to-head battle of the afternoon. He got ahead 0-2 on two fastballs, the second of which grazed the knob of Robert’s bat up and in. He then tried to put him away with three straight breakers, but the first two darted well out of the zone, while the third split the plate. Robert wasn’t sitting on it, but he had the time hold up with his hands and drive the ball out of the park to right center, giving the White Sox a 2-1 lead.

Robert then made it 3-1 largely by himself in the eighth. He drew a walk off Diego Castillo and stole second on the first pitch to José Abreu. After Abreu walked, Robert swiped third with Yasmani Grandal at the plate. Grandal couldn’t drive him in, popping out in foul territory, but Jiménez’s tapper to short was slow enough for a hustling Jiménez to beat it out.

That run turned out to be necessary, as Liam Hendriks scuffled for the second time in two save attempts. He gave up three singles around two strikeouts that made it a one-run game, including a breaking ball that wasn’t that effective. He switched back to heat against Mitch Haniger and struck him out on three pitches for his first save of the season, although his ERA remains 13.50.

Bullet points:

*Jiménez took the stress off Reynaldo López in similar fashion to Robert with Velasquez, making a leaping catch at the wall to rob Luis Torrens of extra bases with nobody on in the seventh.)

*Reese McGuire had another nice game, going 2-for-3 at the plate and stealing a pair of strikeouts on pitches off the plate.

*Leury García is still hitless for the season after going 0-for-3 with a strikeout, and he dropped the ball on a double-play turn to extend an inning with Bennett Sousa on the mound.

Record: 3-1 | Box score | Statcast

Take a second to support Sox Machine on Patreon
Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

Articles: 3914
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Luis Robert is good at baseball


In modest fairness to Hendriks, one of his hits was an Aaron Bummer bad-luck chopper. Still…

I hope Burger is in tomorrow and Harrison is back at second.

Graveman is going to be a critical signing for this team.

The McGuire trade might end up being the most important trade Rick makes this year. The difference between him and Collins or Zavala is immense.

Lynn seemed to be moving well for someone who had recently had knee surgery.

Robert is the best player in the American League. His growth has been stunning to witness. It’s a joy to watch him play baseball.

Now we need our Cy Young winner to beat their Cy Young winner. Our guy’s big advantage is he doesn’t have to face the best player in the American League.


And Lopez looked particularly sharp. If that Lopez keeps showing up, the staff will get a big boost.


I like that he was throwing all 4 of his pitches. Got some strikes with the change and curve.


Did not see the game.But that sounds promising for spending time in the rotation

As Cirensica

Agree 100% with these takes, particularly Robert’s.


remember when luis said he was “holding back” after he came back last year? lmao.

in his 103 PAs pre-injury, he struck out 27.2% of the time. in his 193 PAs post-injury, he struck out 17.1%. in other words, the statistical difference between him and young Mike Trout is just walk rate. the walk rate might never come, but i really don’t think we’ll be complaining too much abt that lmao


This team looks real good right now. I’d be okay if Rick held off on getting a starting pitcher. I certainly wouldn’t want him to overpay for one.


yeah I def don’t wanna overpay (Vaughn for instance), but Montas would probably take this team from really good to best in the AL


I agree with this. I’d give up a couple of our A-ball prospects + Micker for him. Micker seems like just the type of player the A’s turn into someone productive.


I don’t get why people think Adolfo has trade value. I know the 40 man roster spot thing has been pointed out and he may have slightly more trade value now, but still. All teams passed on him a few days ago, even weak ones.

I am sure he is nowhere on the list of players Oakland wants, and would be basically a throw-in at best.


It took Luis Robert one AB to adjust to Brash. Hit him hard the next two times he saw him. Just Amazing.


I couldn’t watch the end. What’s up with Hendriks? SSS fluke bad luck or is something else going on, like decreased velo or something?


Velo looks fine. Too many non-competitive breaking balls. He did break off a few good sliders and even a curveball, but not enough we’re good enough to take batters off the heater.


He was shaky at the start of last year too, and had a couple rough patches. Will take a lot more shaky outings before I start worrying about him.


I hate Garcia. The notion that he “plays every position” is underminded by the fact he struggles at them all. Not being able to turn that double play could have cost them the game. “He balances the lineup because he’s a switch hitter” He can’t hit from either side of the plate. He shouldn’t be in the starting lineup unless absolutely necessary.


Garcia has become practically useless to the Sox now. They have 6 options now in the outfield on the roster, with Haseley in AAA. Harrison can play 2nd/3rd. And Romy Gonzalez can do what Leury can do at a fraction of the price. Off all the moves Hahn made this offseason, giving Leury 3 years was absolutely the worst. Unfortunately Tony will probably give him 200-300 ABs. And most will be bad.


I sure hope Leury doesn’t get that many, but I’m sure he will get more than he would if we had a truly competent and intelligent manager.


Sigh. There’s no way Romy could be as bad as Leury in the OF, and unlike Leury he could actually develop into a decent OBP/power guy if given a chance.


Poor Leury. 2 WAR season as a super utility player and fans still not happy

Last edited 11 months ago by metasox

I enjoyed seeing Mariners fans mad at Robert for making that catch, then Twins fans salty about Buxton not getting as much attention for making a running catch that they thought Robert would have had to dive for (I think they’re right about that, I’m assuming Buxton’s speed is still top 10 in the league despite what Statcast says in a small sample this year, whereas Robert’s speed has never quite been in that range in the big leagues, probably because he’s so big).

Anyway, it’s really fun to have a player that other teams’ fans hate for no other reason than that he’s so good.

Last edited 11 months ago by jorgefabregas

Great. Buxton has made 500 plate appearances once.


Another far too soon overreaction, but does anyone worry that Eloy is basically Avisail Garcia with worse defense?


No and its an utterly ridiculous question


Comparing their major league profiles I’m not sure it’s so “utterly ridiculous”. He hits soooo many ground balls. As far as I remember their GB% is pretty close, and their ISO is pretty close. I didn’t check exit velo but I’m not sure how much it matters given a 50+% ground ball rate. I agree it should be a ridiculous question, but I’ve yet to see consistent proof he can elevate major league pitching.


31 homers in 122 games his rookie year negates your entire argument.


How about Dave Kingman with a smile?


I think you are alone on that one.


I’m not super worried just yet, but Eloy certainly does need to elevate the ball more, like Avi always needed to and never did. 50% grounders is not what we want to see from a guy with that much pop. The good news is that his minor league track record is not nearly grounder-heavy— he has an adjustment to make, but it’s likely not inherent to his swing like Garcia, who ran much higher GB% rates in the minors as well as the bigs.


Yes, this is where I’m at. I’m still confident that Eloy is going to be an offensive force, but I’m less confident than I was a year ago.


Top 10 xwOBA, minimum 10 PA:

  1. Andrew Vaughn
  2. Seiya Suzuki
  3. Luis Robert
  4. Steven Kwan

Jose Abreu 8th.


The fact that Suzuki went to the Cubs is driving me absolutely insane.


Yeah, the White Sox should have tried to get him. The price was reasonable.


Like several other free agents, all of whom would have shared the distinction of biggest contract in Sox history. Yeah Seiya looks like he could be hella good.

Joliet Orange Sox

It’s hard to take a list with minimum 10 PA seriously. Seby had a 10 PA stretch last year that was spectacular.


Not meant to be taken “seriously” if seriously means bank of these few being the best hitters for the rest of the season. Just a description of what’s happened so far.