After more than a two-hour delay to today’s home opener, the White Sox and Royals took to the field in a driving rainstorm and 58 degrees.
Lance Lynn, Yoán Moncada and Yermín Mercedes proceeded to warm everyone up right quick.
Lynn, pitching with determined efficiency, threw just three balls out of the zone in the top of the first and struck out the side with 14 pitches to start the game, duplicating in the home opener what Lucas Giolito did on the road a week ago.
In the bottom half, with two outs, the White Sox rallied to make the game miserable for Royals starter Brad Keller. There was no Tim Anderson jersey hanging in the dugout to menace K.C.’s foremost dullard, but the South Siders still threw down some STICK TALK.
First, José Abreu took a slider away into the right-center gap for a double, and when Yoán Moncada saw a slider fart itself right into the zone, his eyes lit up and he slapped it into the left-center seats, with plenty of room to spare.
Four pitches later, a carbon-copy slider from Keller was almost sent to the concourse by Yermín Mercedes. His titanic, 485-foot blast stands behind only Joe Borchard and Frank Thomas in White Sox “new Comiskey” history. The legend grows.
That early outburst — in driving rain, mind you — was all the White Sox would need. Still, as the temperature dropped and precipitation stilled, insurance runs were had: A murderous sac line out to left from Luis Robert in the second, a single-slap up the middle with the sacks packed from Adam Eaton in the sixth.
Also notable on offense, Danny Mendick remained hot, with his third career three-hit game, going 3-for-3 with a walk in the injured Tim Anderson’s stead at shortstop.
Back on the mound, the Tonka Truck’s first four innings were perfect. Leading off the fifth, Salvador Perez squibbed a grounder to first base, and in part because Lynn didn’t cover first, the perfect game went poof; Perez’s excuse-me had an expected batting average of .060.
As for Lynn, he was the first White Sox starter to make it through six innings this year.
In fact, he was the first Sox starter to make it through seven.
In the eighth, Lynn stayed strong, ending the inning with his 97th pitch and 10th strikeout, becoming the first White Sox starter to go eight innings.
Back in the dugout, think Lynn had a talk with manager Tony La Russa, after La Russa ended Lynn’s streak of 37 straight 100-pitch efforts in his last start? Whatever was said, Lynn came out and completed the win and shutout. It was the second of Lynn’s career and first in almost seven years.
The big fella backed up the truck and chucked 111 pitches, delivering 11 strikeouts against no walks. It was the first shutout in a White Sox home opener since Wilbur Wood in 1976, and the first complete game for a White Sox pitcher in a home opener since Britt Burns in 1985, under the watchful eye of ... La Russa. Lynn’s 95 game score was the best in Chicago since Lucas Giolito’s no-hitter last August, which coincidentally was the last complete game thrown by a White Sox hurler.
Lynn threw as more ace than No. 3, delivering for a gassed White Sox club playing its eighth game in eight days and traversing the country late yesterday to get in for today’s opener. Given it took him 99 pitches to get through just 4 2⁄3 innings in Anaheim last Saturday, today’s can of whup-ass was nothing short of heroic.