CHICAGO — It was a day of firsts for the White Sox, and all of them good in a 6-1 win: first MLB hit (Yermín Mercedes), first suicide squeeze (Nick Madrigal), first two-hitter (Dallas Keuchel/Jace Fry/Carson Fulmer).
Keuchel was brilliant, giving up just one hit and run (an Aaron Nola homer to left) against two walks and three strikeouts, for a 67 game score. And while Fry struggled for a second straight game (two walks, one out), Fulmer continued his brilliance in the early going. The rejuvenated righthander needed just 12 pitches to record his first six outs in finishing up the game, winnowing his ERA down to 1.08 with 2 ⅔ innings of wonderfulness.
There were hitting stars aplenty. Mercedes, batting cleanup, slapped his first major league hit in the fourth inning, a deep single to left. His first at-bat resulted in a deep fly to right field, and the young masher finished his debut 1-for-4 with a K.
Fellow rookie Luis Robert broke the dual no-hitter between Keuchel and Seattle starter Justus Sheffield with a full-count, 368-foot homer to left with one out in the third.
The crooked number to put the game away came in the seventh, when Robert slapped a one-out double and Leury García singled him in (and took second on the throw home and third on a wild pitch) to make the game 4-1. On the next offering after a Sheffield wild pitch, García broke for home and Nick Madrigal laid down a perfect suicide squeeze bunt past the mound, beating out a hit. After Eloy Jiménez singled and José Abreu was plunked for the second time in the game, Mercedes whiffed but Yasmani Grandal slapped a screaming grounder with two gone that ate up Daniel Vogelbach at first base, scoring Madrigal and pushing the White Sox lead to 6-1.
The game was not without a gift for the Pale Hose. In the top of the seventh, Seattle screwed up what could have been a golden opportunity to get back into the game when Fry put together a walk-stolen base-grounder-walk that put runners on the corners with one down and the game still 3-1. For some reason, Aaron Nola tried to steal second, and Grandal cut him down for his first runner caught in seven attempts this season. Fulmer coaxed a ground out from J.P. Crawford, and the rally was doused.
Today wasn’t just Mercedes’ first major league start, it was Madrigal’s first shot at leadoff, subbing there for the slumping Tim Anderson (.150 on the season). Madrigal’s 2-for-4 game with two runs scored and an RBI pumped his average up to .302.
Wednesday’s rubber game pits Reynaldo López against Seattle southpaw Yusei Kikuchi, the third straight lefthander Seattle threw at the White Sox.
NOTES: After the game, the White Sox announced they had successfully claimed left-handed relief pitcher Fernando Abad off of waivers from the Washington Nationals. Abad had given up two earned runs in three games to start the season for Washington. However, he pitched a scoreless 4 ⅓ innings in spring training, and holds a 3.67 ERA and 4.24 FIP over his nine-year career in the majors, with 3.2 bWAR. No word yet on whether he will report to Charlotte or to the White Sox.
Around the majors
- Today’s First Star was Justin Verlander, who threw a complete-game five-hitter, with 10 Ks — and lost, 1-0 to the New York Mets. It was Third Star Jacob DeGrom who went 7 ⅓ innings with three hits and nine Ks to outduel Verlander.
- Second Star was Brad Keller, ew, who scattered six hits over eight scoreless innings with nine Ks in a 3-2 win over the Detroit Tigers. Jorge Soler singled in Salvador Perez for the game-winner in the bottom of the ninth.
- Cesar Puello singled in J.D. Martinez and Christian Vazquez for a walk-off win over the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-3.
- Roman Quinn hit a two-run homer with one out in the bottom of the 10th to push the Phillies to a win over the Blue Jays, 6-4.
- The Pirates rallied for six runs in the bottom of the eighth to topple Brandon Morrow and the 4-7 Cubs, 6-1.