THAT ES­CA­LATED QUICKLY

SOX MAN­AGE TO SHOW SOME STUFF BUT TAKE THEIR LUMPS EARLY AND OF­TEN IN OPEN­ING LOSS TO TWINS

Chicago Sun-Times - - SOX BEAT - BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN | dvan­schouwen@sun­times.com | @cst_­sox­van

The White Sox were ready to “re­ally kick it off,” as ace right-han­der Lucas Gi­olito put it.

In­stead, they got kicked to the curb by the de­fend­ing Amer­i­can League Cen­tral cham­pion Twins, who showed them they’re still the boss in the Sox’ di­vi­sion un­til proven oth­er­wise. Open­ing night 2020 could not have come against a bet­ter test for the up-and­com­ing Sox, who failed badly in a 10-5 loss at Guar­an­teed Rate Field.

The slug­ging Twins are the mea­sur­ing stick of where the Sox stand, and they made a quick state­ment on Gi­olito’s first pitch of a 60-game sea­son

Home run, Max Ke­pler. Se­ri­ously. And then a walk, fol­lowed by sec­ond base­man Leury Gar­cia mis­han­dling the turn on what should have been a dou­ble play to clean up the in­ning. Then came more Gi­olito messi­ness: a single, a walk, a wild pitch, a sac­ri­fice fly and a twoout, two-run single by Jake Cave.

It was 4-0 Twins be­fore many fans could get set­tled in front of their TV sets, the only way to see base­ball dur­ing the pan­demic. Af­ter the Sox set­tled for a run in a po­ten­tial crooked-num­ber in­ning against All-Star Jose Ber­rios, Ke­pler home­red again in the sec­ond to ex­tend the Twins’ lead to 5-1.

That’s when the Sox showed off their young tal­ent, get­ting sin­gles from Eloy Jimenez and

Luis Robert (on the first pitch Robert saw as a ma­jor-lea­guer), a sec­ond single by de­fend­ing AL bat­ting champ Tim An­der­son and a ty­ing three-run homer by Yoan Mon­cada, all in the sec­ond in­ning.

“Our tal­ent’s through the roof,” Gi­olito, an All-Star in 2019, said Thurs­day. “In years past, you could see the tal­ent, but we weren’t quite putting it to­gether. And now we’re start­ing to put those pieces to­gether.”

Mon­cada (3-for-4) also dou­bled and sin­gled, Robert added a dou­ble, and Jimenez sin­gled, dou­bled and walked. While the Sox looked like a team that will score runs in bunches, run preven­tion will be an im­por­tant part of putting it all to­gether. The Twins broke the 5-5 tie with a two-out, two-run single in the fourth by Jorge Polanco against Evan Mar­shall — the runs go­ing on Gi­olito’s poor first pitch­ing line of 2020: seven earned runs, six hits and three walks over 3 ⅔ in­nings.

The Sox were not charged with an er­ror, but Gar­cia had a rough night at sec­ond, muff­ing the pos­si­ble dou­ble play, fail­ing to smother an RBI single by Ed­die Rosario hit to his right and, through no fault of his own, watch­ing Nel­son Cruz’s bad-bounce single go over his head in the Twins’ three-run sev­enth that put the Sox in a 10-5 hole. Man­ager Rick Ren­te­ria and gen­eral man­ager Rick Hahn cited Gar­cia’s of­fense when they gave him the nod over prospect Nick Madri­gal, the bet­ter de­fender.

As for the Sox’ of­fense, it had no stay­ing power as Ber­rios pitched two score­less in­nings af­ter the Sox’ four-run sec­ond. The Twins bullpen strung to­gether five more ze­roes to put the Sox at 0-1.

“Play­ing against the club that took the di­vi­sion [last year] is im­por­tant in that we can go out there and see where we’re at,” Ren­te­ria said. “We have to per­form and ex­e­cute. They’re a very good ball­club, and we have to put our best foot for­ward and see where we’re at right now.”

As Hahn cau­tioned Thurs­day, the Sox prob­a­bly won’t hit their peak this sea­son. Nu­mer­ous play­ers are still in early stages of devel­op­ment.

“As fine as Eloy was last year, there’s still some growth there,” Hahn said. “[Right-han­der] Dy­lan Cease, there’s still room for growth there. Even [right-han­der Rey­naldo] Lopez, Tim An­der­son and Mon­cada, we think there’s even more to each of those play­ers. Cer­tainly for a kid mak­ing his de­but like Luis Robert, it may take a lit­tle bit of time for them to ac­cli­mate them­selves to the big leagues.” ✶

CHARLES REX ARBOGAST/AP

Yoan Mon­cada belts a three-run homer off Twins starter Jose Ber­rios in the sec­ond in­ning Fri­day night af­ter the Sox got off to a nasty start in the first.

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