There's a lot to like in that one-sentence summary, even without knowing the details.
But let's look at some details.
Jeff Samardzija, who couldn't entirely mask his dissatisfaction with Micah Johnson even though he made efforts to be professional, appreciated Sanchez starting two double plays in the first three innings on Sunday.didn't really need the heroics to solidify his standing, as the White Sox seem to recognize the difference in team defense with Sanchez at second base.
"(Sanchez) has played great since he got here, swinging the bat too," manager Robin Ventura said. "He's just a heady player, and he's consistent, and you look forward to seeing that. He has jelled real quick, and part of that is already being up here at the beginning of the year. He had a good feel for Alexei (Ramirez). Everybody all the way around has improved with that."
Samardzija praised Sanchez, catcher Geovany Soto and center fielder Adam Eaton after the game.
"If we play like that every day, we'll have success," he said.
That said, with the offense still scuffling a little, and with the Sox getting little production from the catcher's spot and sputtering contributions from the hot corner, they probably can't afford to punt a third of the lineup. It's not on Sanchez to carry the bottom of the order, but if he can spray some singles, mix in the occasional double and come through with a big hit every once in a while, he'll earn his keep. So far, so good.
Adam Eaton's mad dash
My favorite part of Adam Eaton scoring on the wild pitch -- besides the fact that it accounted for the tying run against Kluber -- was that his decision caused Cleveland catcher Roberto Perez to do a genuine double take. I clipped his reaction in particular:
Wrong GIF ... kinda. This is the one:
Hell, that might be a triple take. At least 2½ takes.
Hawk Harrelson and Steve Stone doing their jobs well
Since we just discussed the flaws of the Harrelson-Stone pairing at length Monday morning, it's only fair to point out that they were on top of the action during the two biggest moments Monday night.
When Abreu came to the plate with two outs and Eaton on third, Kluber and Perez had a brief conference, which Harrelson and Stone surmised to be a discussion about whether it'd be better to pitch around Abreu.
After Kluber missed with a fastball outside to even the count:
Stone: Well, many times if you're even thinking about a pitch-around, you're going to find one of those curveballs in the dirt.
Then Stone caught Perez's sign:
Stone: There is the curve, let's see if he keeps it out of the dirt.
Kluber didn't, and the game turned on it. (And I really like this recent development where they read the signs and tell us how they do it.)
With the final play, Hawk got to crow a little about Sanchez's walk-off single, because he made the prediction well in advance. After Alexei Ramirez popped out with runners on second and third, Geovany Soto came to the plate, but Harrelson was thinking of the guy hitting behind him.
Stone: Now a chance for Geovany to win it with a base hit.
Harrelson: Well, if he doesn't, and he stays out of the double play, we got a man on deck who's going to win it for us.
Stone: [laughs] OK. Let's take that one to the bank.
Sure enough, Soto struck out to give Sanchez a shot, and Sanchez delivered, leading Hawk to bellow, "The man on deck did it!"
There's a bit of a bias with bold predictions, in that we celebrate the successes while forgetting the failures pretty quickly. But even if it didn't pan out for him, I found myself even more invested in Sanchez's at-bat than a potential game-winning situation already demanded, just to see.
The thread between them -- when the action compels their attention, Harrelson and Stone are very good at framing the action with their unusual combination of observations and silence, rather than the straight play-by-play account. It's the downtime that needs a lot of work.
Chris Sale's slider
We'll see how the movement stacks up against previous starts when Brooks Baseball posts the revised data, but Sale showed confidence with the 14 breaking balls he threw. Four of them came in the fourth inning, and righties didn't have a good view of it. Mike Aviles struck out ...
... while Zach Walters couldn't pull the trigger:
Mark Simon of ESPN Stats and Info wrote about the lagging slider we discussed the last start, saying that Sale has already allowed 11 hits on it, including two on Monday. However, the two sliders that the Indians turned into hits were nubbers to the left side for infield singles. One of them was by lefty Brandon Moss during that fourth inning, and perhaps Sale could've located it farther away.
The good news? When he had the same opportunity against Michael Brantley an inning later, he executed better and made the hitter with the league's lowest strikeout rate look foolish.
Between the increased confidence in the slider and his ability to save his best fastball for last, this is basically the same Sale we saw the last time. He might get better, but it's plenty good right now.
Sale vs. Kluber meeting the hype
Kluber was plenty good, too, and the pair of aces combined for the best pitchers' duel of the season according to game score:
Neat: Kluber (84) vs Sale (75) tonight is the first game in MLB this season where both starters had a game score of at least 75.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 19, 2015
Oddly enough, it was the first time Sale and Kluber had ever squared off against each other, before or after Kluber transformed into "Klubot." Hopefully it isn't the last, because that was a beautiful little ballgame packaged into a taut two hours and 34 minutes.
Bruce Chen retiring
We'll still have plenty of things to mutter about, but he won't be one of them:
Today, I would like to announce my retirement. For the last 22yrs I have been doing what I love for a living. I feel blessed and fortunate— Bruce Chen (@ChenMusic) May 19, 2015
Eight of his 82 wins came against the Sox, which is his highest total against any single opponent.
Also noteworthy: Chen's retirement leaves Maicer Izturis and Bartolo Colon as the last two former Montreal Expos in baseball.