It was just a breezy win on the hind end of spring training against a gathering of Los Angeles Dodgers: 2021 players, but man, was that fun.
The Chicago White Sox throttled the Dodgers, 5-1, in a game that showcased two ascending stars of the club, Yoán Moncada and Eloy Jiménez, clearly enjoying their first game as permanent MLB teammates.
Moncada led off and went 3-for-4 with a solo homer and two runs scored, upping his spring slash to .356/.482/.689. His average opposing pitcher quality this spring entering today was 8.1, just a hair better than Triple-A. So the numbers (particularly the Ks, 14 in 17 games) are no mirage; Moncada is setting himself up for a monster 2019.
His solo shot to right-center in the second was his second extra-base hit in as many innings, and put the White Sox up, 4-1.
And as for the man of the hour, Jiménez went from a brunchtime contract extension signing ceremony to batting sixth and starting in left field for the club he’ll be calling home for the next eight years. And whoa, daddy, did he have a CRAZY BREAD! debut for the club; after a walk in the first, Jiménez strung together three straight hits, two singles and an eighth-inning long ball that not only closed out scoring but was almost comical in its ease:
Pretty much duplicate footage here, but please watch until the end, as we have an important new bit of home run celebration funkiness from Eloy and Yolmer Sánchez:
Moncada and Jiménez accounted for seven of the White Sox’s 11 hits, which provided for more than the needed scoring given a terrific pitching day from the staff.
Manny Bañuelos made the most of his final spring tuneup, and he’s earned the No. 5 slot in the rotation. Today, he went a strong five innings, surrendering just two hits (one homer), one earned, two walks and three strikeouts. If the star-crossed 28-year-old can muster that kind of truncated-start effort every turn in the rotation this summer, the complete Chicago pitching staff will be significantly stronger.
Five pitchers covered the last four innings — Dylan Covey (two innings, auditioning for his future Opener role?), Ryan Burr, Caleb Frare and José Ruiz — and all were pretty flawless in execution. Burr in fact struck out both batters he faced, while Ruiz again closed a game, whiffing two of his three batters.
This was as heartening a game as you could hope for from a team that still hasn’t reached double-digit wins. But in improving to 9-17, the White Sox crept out of the Cactus League basement, to 14th place (suck it, Cincy)!
Tomorrow brings us the Camelback Ranch finale, as the White Sox host Cleveland. MiLB closer Zack Thompson, of the Wapahani High Thompsons, gets the nod. Game time is another earlybird start of 2:05 p.m. CT, an NBC Sports Chicago and WGN 720 AM broadcast. Joltin’ Joe Resis brings you the South Side Sox coverage.
I don’t think I’ll see you guys on game coverage until the last day of the month, so happy trails till then, pards. We’ll meet up again when the White Sox are 2-0 and we’ve already identified who the Kauffman Stadium Matt Davidson is this year (if not Palka, gotta be Eloy, right?).