Not a bad opening series. The Chicago White Sox were just one clutch hit away from sweeping the Minnesota Twins to open up the 2014 season. There was a lot of excitement: new players, two wins, a broken record, extra innings, good pitching, a lot of runs, and even a walk off. What more could you ask for from an opening series? The following are a couple of my takeaways from the first three games:
First thing’s first, Jose Abreu is the real deal. He batted .417 and on Wednesday, he drew two intentional walks, putting him in the record books. Abreu became the first player since at least 1955 to be intentionally walked twice in a single game within the first two games of a career.
Abreu has already garnered the respect of some opponents. Said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, “I’m glad I won’t see him for a while. The kid can really hit. We knew that coming in. We heard he was a really strong young man, and that’s why we were pitching around him. No disrespect to Mr. Dunn.”
Speaking of Mr. Dunn, Adam Dunn hit two home runs and drove in four runs in this series. He showed us why he is always a threat to opposing pitchers.
Paul Konerko showed that he is comfortable with his role. For Opening Day, he was given the option to start at designated hitter, but he saw that Dunn had a lot of at bats versus Ricky Nolasco, and so he deferred the starting spot to Dunn. Konerko showed his leadership again on Wednesday when he successfully pinch-hit for Alejandro De Aza to start the ninth inning and a rally for the White Sox. This season, he will likely not get as many at bats as he has in previous years, but I still expect him to be effective when playing.
The starting pitchers looked solid and were all able to get through at least five innings. It would be a blessing if the White Sox could consistently get six innings out of the starters in order to take some pressure off of the relief pitchers, which are probably the team’s most noticeable weakness. We saw an example of this weakness on Thursday when Matt Lindstrom blew the one run lead in the ninth inning. It’s OK though- it is a long season and guys will have good and bad days. As long as the bullpen, as a unit, can limit the damage, the team should be just fine.
Finally, the White Sox were able to generate runs. They were getting on base and driving guys in. Marcus Semien struggled at the plate, but he still scored two runs in the finale. Other than that, everyone was hitting and over the course of the season, that means the Sox will always have a chance to come back and win games. That’s all you need; a fighting chance.
Opening Day was a gorgeous day and more than 37,000 fans piled into U.S. Cellular Field. However, the final two days of the series were a bit cooler. The jumbotron claimed there were 10,000 people at the final two games, but even that seemed to be inflated. Unfortunately, not too many fans got to see the entertaining first few games. So be sure to get out to the Cell and support your Chicago White Sox. If the opening series is any indication, there could be some exciting games on the South Side this year.