There was nothing novel about Chris Sale's game, thank goodness, but the White Sox lineup offered him a different look. With their powers combined, they got the season off on the good foot.
Sale threw 7⅓ pretty easy innings -- very easy, if you remove Kurt Suzuki from the equation -- for his second Opening Day win in as many tries. He did give up a two-run single to Suzuki a half-inning after Alejandro De Aza gave him a two-run homer in the bottom of the second, but the Sox turned a page by giving him another two-run cushion. The Condor proved to be up to the task, striking out eight while allowing just six baserunners (five hits, one walk).
Adam Eaton led off the third with a single, then moved to third two batters later when new No. 3 hitter Conor Gillaspie drove a double to the right-center gap. Jose Abreu followed with a rifle shot to left to score Eaton easily, but the ball was hit too hard for Gillaspie to score. He had to find a more creative route, scoring on Adam Dunn's sac fly to the shortstop. Pedro Florimon made a terrific play to run down a wind-blown pop-up near the tarp in foul territory, but despite his best effort, his throw home couldn't beat Gillaspie.
That gave the Sox a 4-2 lead, and another De Aza homer off Ricky Nolasco gave the Sox an insurance run they didn't need.
The revamped bullpen also passed its first test. Ronald Belisario relieved Sale with one out and a runner on second, and fulfilled his job description by getting a strikeout and an unremarkable ground ball. Alas, Suzuki hit the grounder, so it bounced its way past Alexei Ramirez's outstretched glove and into center for the third run on Sale's tab. The relief corps held the line afterward -- Donnie Veal got Joe Mauer to ground out to end the eighth, and new closer Matt Lindstrom worked around a one-out double by getting a nasty strikeout and a weak comebacker to seal the deal.
There were some flashbacks to last season. Marcus Semien and Avisail Garcia bounced into double plays in each of the first two innings, and Ramirez unsuccessfully tried stretching a single into a double on Oswaldo Arcia. On the other hand, they outhit the Twins 11-7 (with four extra-base hits), played errorless defense, and only issued one walk.
*Abreu went 2-for-4 with line drives to right, left and center.
*Eaton went 2-for-4 and saw 11 pitches in an at-bat leading off the seventh. He, Semien and Gillaspie made Anthony Swarzak throw 24 pitches in a 1-2-3 inning, which seems like four times the length of an average 1-2-3 inning last year.
*De Aza is your league leader in home runs.