The 2019 White Sox went a forgettable 72-89, but the way a handful of young players played last year, there was hope for 2020. That hope was amplified over the winter, as Rick Hahn remade the roster, adding power to the lineup, and depth to the starting staff.
All the talk, all the promise, all the hope led to tonight, when Lucas Giolito toed the rubber and threw the first pitch of the 2020 season. Which Twins leadoff hitter Max Kepler promptly deposited into the right-field bleachers. Not the start the Sox were looking for.
Yoan Moncada. A week ago, there was talk that Moncada might not be ready for Opening Day after testing positive for COVID-19 and missing a portion of Summer Camp. He quickly quieted those worries with a double and a 3-run home run in his first two at-bats of the season. He finished the night 3-for-5 with those 3 RBI, a triple shy of the cycle. His home run tied the game at 5 in the 2nd inning, but that was all.
Luis Robert. It took all of one pitch in his MLB debut to record his first big-league hit, and it was a missle to left-field, coming off his bat at an astounding 115.8 mph. Any elevation, it’s in Lake Michigan. In the 8th, he saw a steady diet of pitches on the outer half, and he lined it into the right-centerfield gap for a double; his first extra base hit. The ball just explodes off his bat, which should bode well for his batting average and slugging percentage.
Jimmy Cordero’s biceps. One has to wonder if Nike had to do any custom seam work on the arm holes of Cordero’s jersey, because the dude definitely does not skip upper body day in the gym. Now, he just has to use that arm better to bring that 54.00 ERA back to earth…
Codi Heuer. The rookie reliever tossed a perfect 9th, throwing 10 of his 16 pitches for strikes, and he recorded his first strike out as well. He showed excellent velocity, touching 98 on the gun.
Lucas Giolito. The adrenaline sure must have been flowing, but Giolito struggled out of the gate as the potent Twins lineup hung a 4 spot on the 2019 All-Star in the first. Max Kepler tagged him for home runs in the first two innings, but the Sox offense got those five runs back by the end of the 2nd. But the Twins got to Giolito again in the 4th, scoring 2 more runs, which was enough to knock him from the game after 3.2 innings, allowing 7 runs, and tag him with the loss.
The bullpen. It’s a good thing that the Sox are able to carry 16 pitchers in the early part of this season, since Ricky Renteria used 7 relievers to get through the first game of the season. The hope was Giolito would be able to go deeper into the game, and the bullpen, which was a strength, would keep the potent Twins offense at bay, but it was not to be. The three runs allowed in the 7th all but put the game away, even with the Sox improved offense.
Yasmani Grandal. One of the most important additions to the roster for this year didn’t exactly impress in his first game in a Sox uniform. He went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strike out, and was tagged with a passed ball on the defensive side of things. With how well Giolito worked with James McCann last year, one has to wonder if McCann will be Giolito’s battery mate going forward.
The first pitch of the season. Usually, you see that pitch taken, and tossed aside for posterity, but Max Kepler rudely swatted it into the right field seats to set the tone, and serve notice that a team that hit a MLB record 307 dongs in 2019 is gonna hit many more dongs in 2020. Let’s hope few of them are against the Sox the rest of the way.
It’s a quick turnaround for both teams, as Saturday’s first pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m., as Dallas Keuchel makes his South Side debut on the bump. Pitter patter.