The White Sox played their first home game in front of fans; a sold-out crowd of 8,207, since late September of 2019, and despite a less-than-stellar opening road trip, the Sox put on a show in front of the home faithful in Thursday’s home opener.
Now, to be fair, the Sox usually struggle on the west coast; always have, so 3-4 is not terrible. But coming home and thrashing a Royals team that they won 9 of 10 against in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season seemed to be just what the doctor ordered.
You couldn’t script a better first inning for the Sox. Starter Lance Lynn struck out the side, and Yoan Moncada and Yermin Mercedes hit back-to-back home runs to spot Lynn a 3-0 lead after one inning of play. Moncada’s homer was an opposite field homer, and a few pitches later, Mercedes sent a ball to Mars.
Mercedes added another base hit, bringing his slash line to .566/.571/.889 on the year. It’s very impressive for him to be hitting as well as he has, even after the 8-for-8 start. He’s not likely to keep his average above .500, but Tony LaRussa will take 2-for-4 or 2-for-5 every night after what the Sox got out of their DH spot last year.
More importantly, Lance Lynn was excellent. He was brought in to eat up innings, and he did exactly that. Prior to Thursday’s outing, no starter got into the 7th inning. Lynn did better, throwing the Sox first complete game of the 2021 season, and the second of his career. He scattered five hits while fanning 11 Royals hitters and walking none. It gave an overworked White Sox bullpen some much-needed rest before Friday’s off day. It sets up the bullpen well for the weekend, as Saturday is the first of 12 straight games without an off-day.
The best part of the day, though, was seeing fans back in the stands at Sox Park, and hearing them cheer for every Lynn strikeout, and the dingers the Sox hit. It was fantastic to see fireworks being shot off for those fans after those dingers.
Additionally, the Sox honored longtime groundskeeper Roger Bossard on this, his 55th (!!!) home opener with the White Sox. The team presented the Sodfather with a gold-plated groundskeeper rake, which he may actually end up using, for all we know. Bossard is well-known, having worked on the turf and drainage systems in 19 of MLB’s 30 ballparks, and even the Green Bay Packers asked him to help with the drainage on Lambeau Field.
Another Sox player ended up on the injured list with a hamstring strain. This time, it’s Billy Hamilton joining Tim Anderson and Adam Engel on the 10-day IL to mend a hamstring injury. It’s testing the depth in ways that the front office didn’t anticipate, but it’s up to those who are in the lineup to do the job until those regulars get back to full health.
On this day, they did, and quite well, in fact. The Sox will look to get above .500 on Saturday with Dylan Cease taking the ball for the White Sox.