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White Sox Take an “Extra” Frame to Win Opener, 8-6

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Adam Eaton homer in the eighth proves the difference

Chicago White Sox v Cleveland Indians - Game One
Adam Eaton scored Yermín Mercedes on a two-run homer in extras, providing what would prove to be essential insurance runs for the win.
Jason Miller/Getty Images

OK, first of all, my fault this was so dramatic — in the gamethread I bragged on Carlos Rodón, dissed Tristan McKenzie and predicted a blowout, which naturally meant Carlos had a really bad day and McKenzie had a really good one.

I should have know better. Sorry.

Now on to the game:

So, do you hate seven-inning games? How about that dumb rule that puts a runner on second in extras? And now, how about when they’re combined?

Yeah, they’re both stupid, but those rules paid off for the Sox today, as they went 1-0 on the season in eight-inning games, which, added to a 7-1 record in seven innings, makes them 8-1 in fewer than nine. Too bad MLB will insist on nine for the playoffs.

The win is thanks to a big top of the eighth. Billy Hamilton, the fortunate automatic runner on second to start the inning stole third, and then came home on a José Abreu sac fly. James Karinchak then walked Yermín Mercedes and gave up a two-run homer to Adam Eaton. The three runs made a single Cleveland run in the bottom of the inning immaterial, as Aaron Bummer got away with a leadoff walk thanks to a a DP and a K, and got his first save since he was playing goalie in youth hockey.

The game proper started off in startlingly bad fashion, as Rodón gave up homers to the first two batters, on a total of four pitches. That seemed like no problem when the Sox came back with four in the second on a Mercedes walk — one of only two in the game by McKenzie, who averages a walk an inning and had just been sent to the minors this week for being awful and then brought back when Zach Plesac went on the IL — an Eaton double, Leury García dribbler single, and then this from Zack Collins.

After a Tim Anderson walk came a bizarrely stupid defensive play by the Wahoos on a pickoff attempt at first, letting Collins score while a rundown ensued between first and second.

Rodón gave one back in the third on Cesar Hernández’s second dinger of the game ... his first multi-homer game ever, and one which meant Rodón had doubled his homers allowed in the season in just this one game. And then Cleveland tied it up on a single by Josh Naylor — only the third hit by a lefty off of Carlos this season — and a double by .150 hitter Yu Chang, misplayed by Eaton.

McKenzie, meanwhile, struck out eight Sox in a row, for a franchise record, which is pretty amazing considering they’ve had a raft of great pitchers, including Bob Feller.

Things continued to get sloppy. The Sox took a 5-4 lead when Hernández earned his second error of the day — plus participation in the rundown stupidity — by bouncing an easy double-play ball of the helmet of the sliding Abreu.

Cleveland clawed back on three singles in the bottom half, the last by Bradley Zimmer, which was the fourth hit by a lefty off of Rodón in 2021.

José Ramírez made an error in the seventh on a routine Anderson grounder, but Anderson was caught stealing. Then, after Codi Heuer gave up a leadoff single, José pulled off a nice DP, with Anderson saving his throw, in the bottom half to send it to extras. It helped a lot that the many Cleveland injuries left no one useful on the bench.

After that, extra-inning heroics time all around.

On to the nightcap.