The first game of the season between the 2015 White Sox and the 2015 Royals looked an awful lot like most games between the 2014 White Sox and the 2014 Royals. The differences were mostly cosmetic, as some of the old memories were brought back by new faces.
This game featured some unwelcome hallmarks.
Outpitched: Jeff Samardzija looked shaky in his White Sox debut, with no control over his secondary pitches and erratic command of his fastball. He walked three batters and plunked two more over six-plus innings, with as many strikeouts as home runs allowed (one).
The Royals also seemed to get to him, as he drilled Lorenzo Cain with the first pitch in the upper arm after Mike Moustakas took him deep the opposite way in the fifth inning. Cain and his teammates took umbrage and some words were exchanged, while Hawk Harrelson's thirst for blood was temporarily sated.
Kyle Drabek didn't help matters, giving up six hits over 1⅓ innings, which allowed two inherited runners and two of his own to score.
Outdefended: Both teams played errorless ball, but Royals actually looked the part (ask Alexei Ramirez, who smoked two line drives with nothing to show for it). A few singles dropped in front of Avisail Garcia, who also missed a cutoff man. Jose Abreu couldn't block a bouncer down the line, and, most costly, Micah Johnson failed to flag down a weak Alex Gordon grounder with the bases loaded (Ramirez might've screened him), turning a 4-1 deficit into a 6-1 hole. Even keeping it in the infield would've helped, although then again, Alex Rios put it out of reach with a three-run homer immediately after.
Outbasepathed: The Royals stole two bases in two tries off Samardzija (with Tyler Flowers airmailing one throw into center). White Sox baserunners didn't last very long - three were erased by double play, and Johnson was picked off first by Yordano Ventura after nearly getting nailed moments before.
Outdecisioned: It wasn't the strongest beginning for Robin Ventura, whose first game featured a starter starting an inning when he probably shouldn't have. Samardzija walked Alcides Escobar to start the seventh, and then Ventura went to Dan Jennings, who hasn't had a platoon split in his career. With runners on second and third with two outs, Ventura ordered Jennings to intentionally walk the switch-hitting Kendrys Morales to face the lefty Gordon, who delivered the fateful bouncer through the right side.
OutBABIP'd: At least four of the Royals' hits were bleeders, nubbers, bloopers or of the broken-bat variety. All of the Sox's five hits were well-struck. Wheeeeeeeeeee.
Abreu provided the lone bright spot with a no-doubt homer off Yordano Ventura, who exited shortly after with a scary-looking wrist injury that turned out to be a thumb cramp.
It's only one game, but it's the one kind of game the Sox can't afford too many more of this early, lest they turn off the fans who really want to go to a White Sox game again.