Carlos Rodón was in the groove but Corey Kluber was into grooving pitches, so an expected pitchers’ duel turned into an easy, 8-3 win for the Chicago White Sox this afternoon.
The first inning turned out to be a revelation. Cleveland’s two-time Cy Young winner, who normally just bulldozes through the White Sox (9-0 the last three years), struggled from the get-go.
Leury García smashed a liner up the middle on the first pitch of the game — the first of his four hits, Yoán Moncada walked, and even with Leury pulling a TOOTBLAN on a bounced pitch that didn’t roll far enough away, the onslaught continued. José Abreu got aboard on an E6, Yonder Alonzo singled home Moncada, Eloy Jiménez loaded the bases with a laser to left (first of two hits), Daniel Palka got his first RBI of the year with a walk, Jose Rondón picked up an RBI on a fielder’s choice, and just like that, the Sox were up three runs.
The bottom of the first started out looking like the lead was going to disappear in a hurry, thanks to Chicago’s awful D. With one out, Moncada bounced a wild throw to first to put José Ramírez on. After a Jordan Luplow single, Carlos Santana hit a grounder to the left side that Rondón turned into a E-DUNCE (please see the gamethread for definition), making it 3-1. But Rodón doubled down, striking out two to end the threat.
That’s all the threatening Cleveland would do when it counted. Another García single and Moncada walk led to an Abreu RBI single, which made the lead 4-1 in the top of the second. Meanwhile Rodón walked Roberto Perez to start the bottom half, then retired the next 12 in a row.
Carlos went six, giving up one unearned run, two hits, one walk and striking out nine. Of his 103 pitches, almost all split between fastballs and sliders, 66 were strikes. Yes, Cleveland is injury-riddled, but that’s still terrific.
Meanwhile, the offense kept rolling. After Leury’s third single in the fourth, Moncada hit a massive double high up the center field wall (since Leury had four hits, we won’t overemphasize his picked up a second TOOTBLAN of the day not scoring on that one), and Abreu doubled them both home.
That was it for Kluber, and in this Freaky Friday of a Wednesday, Cleveland’s bullpen stopped the Sox scoring. That is, until the eighth, when García singled off Neil Ramirez and Moncada walloped a 430 foot homer to right.
Moncada’s now hitting .450, Garcia .368, and Abreu’s three RBIs gave him seven in five games.
Ryan Burr and Kelvin Herrera each had 1-2-3 innings out of the pen. Nate Jones got a stress-free, laugher ninth, yet continued to struggle, giving up a two-run homer to Hanley Ramírez (and three hits in all) in the frame.
Aside from Jones, if you want to bring up negatives, Yolmer Sánchez had yet another error, on a dropped José Ramírez pop-up, of all things. He then threw to second, where Rondón dropped the ball for the South Siders’ third E of the game. In fairness, in addition to his error and E-DUNCE, Rondón made a nice sliding catch on a foul pop-up down the line. Still, it will be good to get Tim Anderson back from paternity leave.
Among the offensive lowlights, Sánchez was 0-for-4 with three Ks, lowering his average to .050, and Palka remained hitless for the year.
But let’s forget those things for now. It was a very nice win, ending the season-opening road trip 2-3, a game behind last year. It should be fairly easy (we hope) to get ahead of that pace from here, though, because the 2018 White Sox went 1-12 over their next 13 games.
Weather has moved the White Sox’s home opener to Friday. As of now, both starters are named TBD. First pitch, by whoever it might be, is set for 1:10 p.m. Central. NBC Sports Channel has the TV coverage.