Chicago Baseball Round-Up: Opening Week worries
Let’s overreact to the first week of baseball! The White Sox are 2-4 and scuffled plenty in Kansas City, but started pulling it together over the weekend, winning their last two games against Minnesota. The Cubs are steady, swinging and missing more than they’d like but their pitching staff has yet to yield more than five runs in a game and it’s allowed their bats to play catch-up.
So, a quick round-up of last week, Opening Week:
Sunday (April 6): The Cubs were held scoreless by Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals in the first game of the baseball season. Jon Lester wasn’t himself, allowing a run in each of his first two innings in his Cubs debut. In the game’s first five innings, the Cubs led off the bottom of the inning with a hit, but again, failed to score. The Cubs bullpen combined for 4.2 innings of work and kept the Cardinals from furthering their 3-0 lead and allowed just two hits and a walk, striking out five.
Monday (April 7): The White Sox opened their season in Kansas City and stumbled to a 10-1 loss. The Royals’ Yordano Ventura and that scary bullpen halted the White Sox in every which way. Oh, Jose Abreu hit a home run. That’s it.
The Cubs were off.
Tuesday: The Cubs were rained out at home and the White Sox were off. It was kind of annoying after enduring an exciting offseason and being teased with two-straight days of baseball, albeit bad baseball.
Wednesday: Despite struggling offensively once more, the Cubs, behind starter Jake Arrieta, defeated the Cardinals 2-0. Starling Castro broke the scoreless tie in the seventh inning after he singled home Anthony Rizzo – one of just two Cubs hits Wednesday. Arrieta allowed just three hits in seven sturdy innings of work and Hector Rondón locked down save no. 1 of 2015.
After Jeff Samardzija faltered in his White Sox debut, Jose Quintana failed to be the stopper Wednesday and the Sox allowed seven more runs in their second loss of the season, 7-5. Tyler Flowers put the Sox ahead early with a three-run home run but Eric Hosmer answered with a three-run blast of his own in the third inning. A late home run by Lorenzo Cain off Zach Putnam put the Royals up 7-5 and that was it. White Sox pitching allowed 14 more hits in the loss.
Thursday: The Cubs had an off day but the White Sox attempted to avoid being swept to start the year in Kansas City. They couldn’t get anything by Edison Volquez, though. John Danks pitched well until the sixth inning when he allowed a two-run home run to Salvador Perez and it gave the Royals a 4-0 lead, which seemed insurmountable at the time. They’d eventually lose 4-1.
Friday: Cubs bats were ineffective again Friday in Colorado, losing 5-1 and collecting just five hits all day. Travis Wood allowed three runs in 4.2 innings and it was too much for the Cubs to overcome. A Matt Szczur sacrifice fly in the third was the only thing that prevented another scoreless Cubs outing in the early season.
The White Sox played their first game at U.S. Cellular Field on Friday against the Twins but could only muster three hits in their fourth-straight loss of the season, dropping their first at home, 6-0. White Sox pitching allowed a run to score in the first inning for a third-consecutive game. Hector Noesi helped fuel Carlos Rodon anticipation after giving up two runs in 4.2 innings of work but he did not have any command, walking six and allowing his second run to score on a wild pitch.
Saturday: The Cubs exploded for nine runs to hand the Rockies their first loss of the season, 9-5. Chris Coghlan and Mike Olt both smacked two solo home runs and Starlin Castro grabbed three more hits and two more RBIs in the win. Jason Hammel pitched well enough to win, too.
The White Sox finally won their first game of 2015, 5-4, over the Twins on Saturday. Jeff Samardzija grinded through seven innings, allowing four runs but all of them came in the second. It was all White Sox after that as Adam LaRoche hit his first home run as a member of the team as did Geovany Soto while Zach Duke earned his first win and closer David Robertson earned his first save. Newcomer J.B. Shuck hit a pinch-hit single to score Alexei Ramirez in the bottom of the eighth to give the Sox the late lead and the win.
Sunday: Dexter Fowler blasted a two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning to give the Cubs a 6-5 lead and Hector Rondón closed his second game of the season on the way to the Cubs’ second win in as many days. Kyle Hendricks struggled in his first start of the season, allowing the Rockies to 5-3 lead. Late heroics from Fowler and more solid work from the bullpen got the Cubs a dramatic third win of the season.
Chris Sale looked good in his first start of the year, striking out eight over six innings allowing just one run on five hits and a walk. White Sox bats got to Twins starter Phil Hughes early, scoring two runs in the first inning from an Adam LaRoche single and an Alexei Ramirez double. LaRoche added his second home run in as many days later in the game. Gordon Beckham capped the win in the eighth inning with a pinch-hit two-run home run into the left field bullpen to give the Sox the 6-2 lead and that’s where it would stay.
Both teams started slowly delaying the tremendous amount of hype they had entering the season, but back-to-back wins by both teams give us a reason to be optimistic again.
- In a lot of ways, the White Sox lineup is hinging on the progression of Avisail Garcia. After a great spring, Garcia has collected seven hits and a couple of walks to start the season. That’s fantastic news for the Sox, and for the bats hitting around him.
- Starlin Castro is still swinging freely, but he’s off to the hottest start offensively on the Cubs. He has a team-high six hits this season and three critical RBIs. He’s answered when the Cubs have needed an offensive boost.
- Jake Arrieta owns Chicago’s best start of the season when he defeated the Cardinals on Wednesday, keeping them scoreless in his seven innings of work, mixing in seven strikeouts.
- Adam Eaton was reaching base with regularity in the spring, leading us all to believe he’d fly out of the gate as the White Sox catalyst in 2015. So far, Eaton has just two hits in his first 25 at-bats. He was also caught stealing in his only attempt.
- The Cubs’ most impactful bat, Anthony Rizzo, just collected his first two hits of the season Saturday. He’s done well to reach base otherwise, but his bat is slow in the early going, striking out five times in 14 at-bats.
- The biggest acquisition for the White Sox in the offseason was former Cubs righty Jeff Samardzija. In his first two starts, Samardzija has allowed nine runs in 13 innings. He did pitch a scoreless last five innings, though.