During the few moments we have left before the start of the regular season, we want to talk right down to earth in a language that everybody here can easily understand:
The Chicago White Sox might be pretty OK this year.
With all the talk of draft picks and service time and Opening Day James Shields and rebuilding, that one key fact seems to be getting left behind at the station.
Tonight’s game was against a 2017 playoff team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, fielding regulars and throwing its No. 2 starter, Taijuan Walker. The Sox, who fell 18 games short of the playoffs in 2017, had No. 4 starter Miguel Gonzalez on the bump, who was just one spring start removed from a very rough outing.
The White Sox won, 3-1, and it may not have been as close as that final score indicates.
Tim Anderson is serving notice he is ready for the real stuff to begin, legging out a double to right-center in his first at-bat vs. Walker and following that up with a triple into the left-field corner. With a 3-for-4 night, Anderson is up to a .304 batting average and .780 OPS.
Avisail Garcia will backslap you if you dare suggest he move from the No. 2 spot at this point, as he continues to thrive there. Tonight it was a 2-for-4 effort, with an RBI double.
In the fifth inning, leadoff hitter Yoan Moncada made the crowd yoan and moan with a titanic blast that nearly cleared the berm in right field. In the dugout, winning pitcher González made an astute observation: “[Moncada] is not a kid, this is a big man.”
But it wasn’t a case of the White Sox, as they have a couple of times in the last bunch, just clocking the ball all over the park. The team was just 9-for-36 in the game. But the timing of the hits made a difference: 3-for-8 with runners in scoring position, and just six runners left on base.
And hey, the pitching was fabulous. González threw 88 pitches (62 for strikes), for a pretty tidy 62 game score in 5 1⁄3 innings. The righty gave up four hits and two walks, offset somewhat by five strikeouts. His lone earned run was allowed in by Xavier Cedeno, relieving González in the sixth.
But David Descalso’s RBI single off Cedeño to plate A.J. Pollock would be the only damage inflicted by Arizona tonight. Gregory Infante, Joakim Soria and Robbie Ross Jr. took an inning apiece and each gave up one hit, offset by one punchout.
Well, perhaps there was some additional damage from Arizona — the state, not the team. Adam Engel, all but named the Opening Day center fielder after Ryan Cordell was sent to minor league camp earlier in the day, was a late scratch tonight with a stiff neck. The air is thin in the desert, Adam; layer, brohan.
It’s a fast turnaround for the 14-12-2 White Sox, as they come home to Camelback Ranch to take on the Seattle Mariners at 3:05 CST on Friday, with James Shields taking the bump and Bruce Rondon and Jeanmar Gomez the only named-jersey hurlers scheduled to back him.