Last year’s second-most enjoyable game started with James Shields facing Matt Boyd.
Shields-Boyd II could make the 2017 list, but for vastly different reasons.
Unlike last year, when the White Sox offense had to rally against Boyd and the Detroit bullpen to overcome a dud from its starter, everybody contributed to a well-rounded effort, resulting in an immensely satisfying day all around.
Bullet points from the blowout:
*After giving up three homers on Opening Day, the White Sox struck back with three of their own, including two from Geovany Soto. The first blast was the big one, as he followed an Avisail Garcia infield single and a Matt Davidson walk with a no-doubt clout just inside the left-field foul pole. That extended the lead from 2-1 to 5-1, and it was all gravy from there.
*While Soto had the edge in quantity, Davidson beat him in quality. He jumped on a first-pitch Anibal Sanchez slider and hammered it well up the bleachers in left-center for his first MLB homer since 2013. The three-run shot made it a 9-1 game through four innings, and both teams could exercise their bench players and low-leverage relievers afterward.
*Davidson also tripled and scored for the Sox’ first run in the second inning, crossing the plate on a squeeze bunt by Jacob May. Boyd had a chance to get Davidson at the plate, but rushed the throw and fired wide. That left the Sox with runners on second and third and one out, and while Tyler Saladino’s grounder to short resulted in a fielder’s choice at the plate, Tim Anderson picked him up with his first hit of the year, scoring May.
*Davidson and Soto: 4-for-6, 3 HR, 5 R, 7 RBI, 2 BB.
*Shields fell behind 1-0 by giving up a homer to Tyler Collins in the top of the second, but he kept the Tigers off the board over the remainder of his 51⁄3 innings. You could call him effectively wild -- he walked five, but he gave up only two hits and struck out five.
*Shields threw 104 pitches over those 5 1⁄3 innings, but if somebody told you that he walked five batters, you might think he gave up seven or eight runs. Instead, he starts the season 1-0.
*Dan Jennings, Michael Ynoa and Tommy Kahnle combined to throw 3 2/3 effective innings. Ynoa gave up an unearned run thanks to a pair of misplays. A routine-looking fly glanced off Avisail Garcia’s glove for a two-base error, which came around to score when Leury Garcia got turned around on a high fly to left that bounced off the fence.
*In their defense, it was a windy afternoon, and the starting outfielders did a nice job of staying with slicing liners up until that point.