THAT ESCALATED QUICKLY
SOX MANAGE TO SHOW SOME STUFF BUT TAKE THEIR LUMPS EARLY AND OFTEN IN OPENING LOSS TO TWINS
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.” ✶
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.