If anything can be taken away from the Chicago White Sox’ Opening Day victory, it’s that Chris Sale and Tyler Flowers can, and will, carry this team if they need to.
Sale took the mound for his first stint as Opening Day starter yesterday afternoon. Despite saying that he has been very nervous about filling former ace Mark Buehrle’s shoes, his shutout performance was nothing short of fantastic. Striking out seven over 7 2/3 innings and only allowing seven hits, Sale performed more than admirably. Considering that the Royals’ starter James Shields also pitched an amazing game, the White Sox needed every single one of the 72 strikes that Sale threw.
The Sox’ lone run came off a Tyler Flowers home run in the fifth inning. Obviously it’s only been one game, but one can’t help noticing that this is a great way for Flowers to announce his arrival as full-time catcher. His .213 average last year certainly wasn’t anything special, but manager Robin Ventura is confident that his numbers will improve once he begins taking the field every day.
Sale wasn’t the only reason the Royals couldn’t get around the diamond. He had some clutch plays behind him as well as solid relief by the bullpen. The seventh inning started with a single by the Royals’ Hosmer. Then it looked like Lorenzo Cain would advance him to third on another single until Gordon Beckham made a diving play to make the out. This was followed by an efficient double play to end the threat. The bullpen also contributed with a timely strikeout by Matt Thornton and Addison Reed picking up his first save of the season.
Hopefully, Monday’s performance by the White Sox is indicative of their future strength throughout the season. Many are doubting the batting order’s ability to score runs and outperform the Detroit Tigers. However, as everyone knows, it is defense that wins championships and no one should question the White Sox talent on the field. There’s Paul Konerko at first base who brings a wealth of experience and talent to the position. Then there is the Gold Glove caliber play by Gordon Beckham and Alexei Ramirez. Round that out with an outfield that includes Alejandro De Aza at center and the White Sox could arguably have one of the strongest defenses in baseball.
At this point, it is just fun to say that the White Sox are tied for the best record in baseball and that Chris Sale is having a Cy Young season. Naturally this can all change tomorrow, but to be optimistic, let’s just say the White Sox hope to continue their undefeated season tomorrow afternoon against the Royals.