The White Sox made things interesting in the 9th inning, which helped to erase the impression of what was a sluggish showing overall in a 5-3 loss to open the season. The team will look to bounce back on Saturday (weather permitting) with Reynaldo Lopez on the mound. In the meantime, here are some individual performances that stood out for the Sox:
Yoan Moncada was easily the best player for the White Sox tonight. Offensively, he was aggressive on fastballs in the zone early in counts, which led to hard contact in each of his plate appearances (aside from a 9th inning walk), one of which resulted in a sharp single. With this new approach, one can expect fewer strikeouts and more hits. Defensively, Moncada looked smooth at third base, which included this highlight reel play:
The speed of the transfer of the ball from Moncada’s glove to his hand cannot be taught, and if he makes plays like this all season, he will certainly find himself in the Gold Glove conversation.
Rodon allowed just 3 hits and 1 walk over 5.1 innings, and his off-speed pitches showed terrific movement. He seemed to run out of gas in the 6th inning, and some fans may have felt like he was left in the game for too long. Regardless, he got a double play ball to escape the jam, but Yolmer Sanchez got a bad read on it, and an (unearned) run came around to score, which ended his outing. Overall, the start was encouraging given the impressive off-speed pitches. Rodon just needs to get his velocity up from the 91-92 MPH he was sitting at today. Given that it was his first start of the season, this is nothing to be concerned about.
In his MLB debut, Eloy Jimenez was greeted by a slew of sliders. He seemed to be experiencing typical debut jitters, as he went 0-3 with 2 strikeouts, a weak groundout, and an RBI hit by pitch. He seemed to look more comfortable at the plate with each appearance. Fans should expect Jimenez to enter his next game prepared to see more off-speed pitches.
Garcia made a nice running catch in center field early in the first inning off of Whit Merrifield, showcasing his range and easing some pressure off of Rodon. At the plate, he singled in the 9th and had a great at bat against Brad Keller, the Royals’ starter, in the 3rd inning when the Sox offense appeared to be dead. Garcia saw ten pitches and, despite eventually lining out to center field, did a great job of at least making Keller work a bit on the mound.
Anderson made a nice leaping catch on a line drive early in the game off the bat of Chris Owings. The batted ball had a 91% hit probability, but Anderson made the play look easy. Despite a throwing error later in the game that may be attributable to a slick ball, Anderson’s defensive improvements are an encouraging sign. At the plate, he made solid contact in his first at bat but grounded out. He followed this with a strikeout, then was called out after a replay review on what would have been an error. Finally, he delivered a clutch RBI single to left field in the 9th inning.
The Sox scored 3 runs in the 9th inning to make the game interesting, but Yolmer Sanchez eventually flied out to right field to end the game. The next game for the White Sox is scheduled for Saturday at 1:15 PM CT in Kansas City. Reynaldo Lopez will take the mound for the Sox against the Royals’ Jakob Junis. There is plenty of rain in the forecast, but as we saw today, there may end up being a window in which the game can be played anyway.
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