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The first thing that didn’t go according to plan was Lucas Giolito leaving after just four innings and 61 pitches with abdominal tightness in his left side.
Kyle Crick, Aaron Bummer and Liam Hendriks followed suit with their own rocky outings, and while the Sox had the cushion to absorb the first one, the margin for error eventually disappeared. They lost two leads on Hendriks’ watch, and eventually the game when AJ Pollock’s inning-ending bobbled catch against the fence was overturned by replay.
The White Sox led 3-1 entering the eighth, and Tony La Russa had his bullpen set up with Bummer starting the inning. Bummer struck out Eric Haase ,but the Tigers loaded the bases on two soft singles surrounding a walk. Bummer then struck out Jeimer Candelario to bring Miguel Cabrera to the plate, and when La Russa called for Hendriks for the four-out save, Cabrera put the “BS” on Hendriks’ tab with one pitch, flipping a fastball into right center to tie the game at 3.
Andrew Vaughn appeared to bail out Hendriks by turning around a first pitch from Gregory Soto for a solo shot in the top of the ninth for a 4-3 lead. Then Hendriks gave up his own solo shot to Haase with one out in the bottom of the ninth, effectively giving him two blown saves in one game. He came back to strike out Grossman, but Austin Meadows lined a low fastball into the right center gap for a triple, bringing Javier Báez to the plate.
Báez had a bid for a three-run homer die on the warning track to left earlier in the game, with Eloy Jiménez flagging it down on the run. This time he tried the other corner, and that’s when Pollock absorbed some of that Jiménez mojo. He appeared to have measured it correctly in terms of his feet, but he didn’t account for the wall, and his attempt to reach up and grab it got jammed. Instead of a clean catch, the ball doinked off the wall before hitting Pollock’s glove. Pollock retreated to the dugout as quickly as possible, but he couldn’t outrun the crew review.
And so a game the White Sox led 3-0 after two innings turned into an 0-1 record to start the season.
The Sox seemed to have a handle on it through the first half. They made Eduardo Rodriguez throw 80 pitches over four innings, scoring three runs over the course of two innings, and everything after two outs and nobody on.
In the first inning, Eloy Jiménez followed up a pair of walks with a single through the middle and the season’s first run. In the second, Jake Burger inside-outed a double to the right field corner with two outs, scored on Pollock’s single the same direction, and then Pollock scored when Luis Robert ripped an inside cutter just inside the left-field line for an RBI double.
Alas, the game turned in the fifth when Pollock and Robert were stranded after reaching on a double and infield single with nobody out. Yasmani Grandal’s shallow fly couldn’t score Pollock, and Jiménez grounded into a 1-3.
Then Giolito didn’t take the mound for the fifth, even though he cruised through the four innings. He’d shown better command, but he limited the Tigers to a hit and two walks while striking out six, and seemed to have at least one more inning’s worth of pitches left in the tank.
Bennett Sousa made his debut and worked out of some bad counts with a 1-2-3 inning on nine pitches. Crick’s debut wasn’t as smooth. He plunked Grossman on a second pitch, then walked Meadows to bring Báez to the plate. Báez ripped a hanging slider to left, but caught it a little bit off the end of the bat for a harmless flyout.
La Russa pulled Crick for Kendall Graveman, but Graveman gave up a single through the right side to Candelario, making it a 3-1 game. It could’ve very well been 3-2 a batter later when Josh Harrison’s attempt to turn an inning-ending double play pulled Abreu off the bag, but the umpires called interference on Candelario, who slid late, through and past the bag into Harrison’s shin. It wasn’t the reason why the throw was off target, but it was a correct interpretation of the Chase Utley rule, and it took a run off the board. For now.
*Hendriks and Bummer combined to allow eight baserunners (six hits, one walk, one HBP) over 1⅔ innings of work.
*The White Sox only struck out three times at the plate to Detroit’s 11.
*Pollock went 3-for-5 with a double from the leadoff spot, but his debut will be colored by the play he didn’t make.