Chicago baseball was back when the Cubs began their season by playing at the Rangers in Texas while the White Sox were down in Kansas City to play the Royals. Each team had their share of successes and failures, combining for a 2-4 record.
Here’s a more specific look at what happened.
Fly the W
It’s always interesting to see how off-season changes, both on and off the field, translate early on in the year. The Cubs management preached on several things they would do differently this season, mentioning how important each game has equal importance.
Nothing really happened for a couple innings, minus Jon Lester giving up a pair of runs off a homer. After that, it was all Cubs and Lester
Chicago fans were given another reason to smile after seeing Kris Bryant flash his signature smile with a blast of his own in the eighth. Lester did his job by going six deep and had a substantial lead for the bullpen to protect. Randy Rosario and Brad Bach (Cubs debut) were stellar through two innings before Pedro Strop and Mike Montgomery gave up one run each in the ninth.
Despite the finish, the Cubs dominated 12-4 in the opener. Grade: B+
The White Sox didn’t have quite as much luck, even though Carlos Rodon put together a strong showing on the mound. Unfortunately, he was out-dueled by his younger counter-part Brad Kelly. Rodon didn’t allow a Royal to reach base until the third inning which only ended due to an error.
As effective as the White Sox were on the field, their offense wasn’t able to muster a hit until the fourth inning. Kansas City got on the board first and put up five runs before the White Sox responded. In a last-ditch effort, the Sox made things interesting by getting runners on first and second with no outs in the ninth.
After an out, a walk loaded the bases and the first run scored with Eloy Jimenez taking a hit-by-pitch. A couple more runs almost led to a KC collapse but the rally ended short in a 5-3 loss. Grade: C
*This would’ve been a higher grade had the Sox not tallied three errors, one directly translating to one run.
For anyone that follows the Chicago Cubs, the phrase “blown save” is used all too often. That wasn’t exactly the case this time but the bullpen did self-destruct not once but twice. The Cubs scored three early runs against the Rangers on March 30 and led 4-3 after three innings of play. Jose Quintana slid into a bullpen role and threw four decent innings.
Fans saw the good and the bad of “Q” which totaled eight K’s but did allow six hits, three walks
The next day, a similar situation went down. The Cubs trailed once through four innings and held onto it until the sixth inning, where they gave up four runs. Some late heroics by Anthony Rizzo and Daniel Descalso/David Bote tied the score up at 10-10 going into the final frame.
The Cubs pitching as a whole was not good that day and Strop was about to be the cherry on top. After allowing a lead-off double to Joey Gallo, the Rangers were in prime position. An infielders choice moved him to third and, sadly enough, Strop threw a horrible wild pitch which brought Gallo home.
If those two games don’t summarize how the ebbs and flows of the Cubs’ bullpen, I don’t know what does.
White Sox pick up a win
After another narrow loss to the Royals, the White Sox were determined to not be shut-out in their first series of the season. It took some time but they finally scored in the fourth with a pair of homers from Jose Abreu and Yonder Alonso. Some drawn walks in the sixth inning led to another two runs, at that point leading 4-0.
Lucas Giolito showed he can be an ace for the Sox, pitching into the seventh inning before even allowing a hit. His day came to an end after the Royals ended his no-hit bid, scoring twice in the seventh. He finished with 99 pitches, 68 strikes and eight punch-outs.
The White Sox gave up one more run in the eighth but edged out with a 6-3 win, leaving KC with a 1-2 record.