After weeks of being unable to take results at face value, Opening Day gives us tangible statistics that count toward the record books. It might only be 1/162nd of a season, but it's 100 percent of what we have so far, so let's draw some conclusions from a White Sox winner over the Minnesota Twins on Monday afternoon.
Adam Eaton: 2-for-4, R
Eaton delivered two singles and saw 11 pitches in his final at-bat (a groundout to first), so check the "pest" box.
He also went the extra mile -- or about six to eight feet -- to try to spare Marcus Semien a double play, so check the "dirtbag" box.
Marcus Semien: 0-for-4, K, GIDP
I can't say for certain that Semien was nervous for his first Opening Day start, but he did things a nervous ballplayer would do, like short-arming his first throw (which Jose Abreu scooped) and popping up a bunt on 2-0. He also turned a double play with no problems and drove a ball to the warning track that Josh Willingham (of all people) flagged down in left, so it wasn't a total loss. He just happened to have the least auspicious debut of five first-time Opening Day starters.
Conor Gillaspie: 1-for-3, 2B, BB, K, R
A controversial choice for the No. 3 spot, Gillaspie showed what Robin Ventura was thinking with a professional day at the plate. He turned in an even better day on the basepaths, scoring on Adam Dunn's popout in foul territory, and taking another 90 feet on a not-too-wild pitch after his one-out walk in the fifth.
Jose Abreu: 2-for-4, 2B, R, RBI
My reaction to his four at-bats:
He smoked the first pitch he saw from Ricky Nolasco past Oswaldo Arcia in right for a double, even though it was off the plate, and he made Hawk Harrelson laugh with his run-scoring laser to left. Even his two outs to center were encouraging -- he stayed back on a slider when he was sitting fastball, even though he got under it for a routine flyout, and he sent Aaron Hicks scrambling back to the track on his third line drive of the day.
Adam Dunn: 0-for-2, BB, K, SF, RBI
Dunn's day might have looked different if Gillaspie wasn't in a position to tag up on his popout, but thanks to alert work by Joe McEwing, Dunn had something to show for a day where he didn't drive a ball.
Avisail Garcia: 2-for-4, K, GIDP
After Abreu doubled and Dunn walked, the Sox had Nolasco sweating. Then Garcia chased the first pitch he saw down below his knees, and a 6-4-3 double play was the only possible result.
He's going to have plenty of plate appearances like these that deserve a fine in kangaroo court. Then you'll see him make Casey Fien dance with a smash off the mound, and it's understandable why he trusts his plate coverage so much (his other single was a flare off the end of the bat, too).
Alejandro De Aza, 2-for-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI
Unlike Garcia, De Aza waited for Nolasco to elevate the ball, and he pounced for a pair of homers. It's a good start for the left field situation, although it's funny that a platoon is being treated the same way as the Bears' quarterback choices last year. It's not a positive development that the manager or coach has two playable options -- it's a "controversy."
Alexei Ramirez, 2-for-3
If official scorers weren't big ol' teddy bears, both of Ramirez's singles would have been errors. Trevor Plouffe ole'd a hard grounder his way, and Joe Mauer backed up and flopped in an unsuccessful attempt to corral a bouncer. Mauer probably isn't used to seeing many grounders his way from a righty, and it was strange to see him look awful on the diamond. Ramirez bailed him out by becoming the first baserunning casualty of the year, making the unwise decision to test Arcia's arm.
Tyler Flowers, 0-for-3, 2 K
Last year, Flowers was the hero on Opening Day, and a fat lot of good that did him, so let's see if this does anything. He called a good game, and it would've looked better had his pitchers been able to hit the mitt on high fastballs. His best moment: calling three changeups over four pitches to Brian Dozier with two outs in the fifth. Dozier swung through two of them, and grounded meekly to second on the third one.
Chris Sale, 7.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 8 K
Averaged 95 mph with his fastball and pretty much sustained his velocity through the whole game. He paid for walking the lefty Arcia to lead off the third, but he stayed out of such trouble afterward.
Ronald Belisario: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K
Our first glimpse of Belisario in the home whites disproved the notion that pinstripes are slimming.
But Belly-sario pitched readier than he looked, striking out Dozier with a pair of corner-dotting fastballs and a wipeout slider. He then induced a regular ol' grounder from Suzuki that would've been a 6-3 had Ramirez been position traditionally. Instead, he played Suzuki to pull, and it bounced through the middle for an RBI single.
Donnie Veal: 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K
Early last year, Veal had problems by walking or allowing singles to the only guy he faced. This time, he got Mauer to ground out to Ramirez on his fifth consecutive curveball. Veal lucked out where Belisario didn't, as Ramirez played Mauer up the middle, and made the play on the second base side.
Matt Lindstrom, 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K
Named the closer by Ventura before the game, Lindstrom came through with his first save since 2011, countering a couple hard-hit balls to right field with a strikeout and a nubber that ended the game. We'll see how rigidly Ventura commits to this arrangement, but it makes enough baseball sense to try getting the financial reward. If his new cutter looks as good as the two he threw to set up a swing-and-miss slider to fan Plouffe, he might have more going for him than last year.