The Chicago White Sox performance matched the weather in Chicago on Tuesday afternoon – gloomy with a chance of rain. Expectations are low for the South Siders heading into the 2017 season. When Rick Hahn decided to pivot from contending with a veteran core to dismantling the roster brick by brick, losing was part of the deal.
In order to win later, the White Sox were going to pay up front with a few dreadful seasons. Even after Chris Sale and Adam Eaton were traded there was still a hum of optimism around a roster that featured several veterans – albeit a temporary reality, given Hahn’s statements on trading players.
And by the third inning of Tuesday’s home opener, no one expected how good the White Sox could be at being bad.
After a dominant spring, Jose Quintana limped through a five-run second inning and couldn’t make his way out of the sixth inning. Rick Renteria bounced to the mound with one out and one on in the sixth to make his first pitching change of the regular season.
Quintana closed Spring Training with a 1.00 earned run average over nine innings of work while tossing five innings of no-hit baseball against Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. After returning to Camelback Ranch, the southpaw fired another gem taking a perfect game into the 5th inning against the Cincinnati Reds.
Trade buzz pitched even higher. Of the players left to trade, Quintana is clearly the most valuable, but he won’t be cast-off for a song.
And yet there will be reams of speculation on how the southpaw’s market value changed after 5 1/3 innings pitched, five hits, six earned runs and three walks to kick the season off.
But even more concerning was the sloppy defense behind Quintana.
Jose Abreu absorbed the lone error in the official scorebook on a blunder so routine even Abreu was shocked. Tyler Saladino twisted a tailor-made double-play and Abreu dropped the ball – literally. The only conceivable excuse for the sure-handed first baseman to drop a knee-high turn is that his glove wasn’t broken in — still, that’s a weak excuse. And before the double-play fiasco, Abreu let a pickoff from Quintana scoot away from him as Miguel Cabrera playfully threatened to take second.
Abeu wasn’t alone in his blunders — he had company from Tim Anderson.
With Justin Upton at the plate, Anderson shaded to the six-hole and had Upton’s sharp two-hopper sewn up, but the ball popped off the heel of Anderson’s glove. It wasn’t an error but having shaded into the hole and given the types of plays Anderson makes look routine, even he would admit he should’ve made the play.
Later, another double-play opportunity was botched after Anderson was late getting to the bag and had to run through his throw.
And to round out a forgettable day for the newly-extended shortstop, Anderson took the collar with three strikeouts and four runners left on base.
On the day, the White Sox left seven on base going 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position. Four players accounted for all eight of the team’s hits with Saladino, Abreu, Melky Cabrera and Avisail Garcia racking up two hits apiece.
Expectations are low but the south side faithful deserves better baseball than what the White Sox demonstrated on Tuesday. The good news is that it’s only one game in a very long season and they are sure to improve.