White Sox fans have long awaited Opening Day 2021, and it finally arrived on Thursday. Unfortunately, a late-inning blunder sparked an Angels’ comeback in a game the White Sox led for a majority of the time.
Dylan Bundy got the ball for the Angels opposite Lucas Giolito for the White Sox. Bundy put together an impressive 2020 campaign that featured a 6-3 record in 11 starts while sporting a 3.29 ERA. The former first-round pick also punched out 72 batters in 65.2 innings last year. As for Giolito, a season that featured a no-hitter and 97 strikeouts in 72.1 innings helped further solidify him as the White Sox ace. Thursday marked Giolito’s second career Opening Day start.
How It Played Out
The first inning was dominated by the pitchers. Aside from a two-out single from Jose Abreu for the White Sox first hit of 2021, Bundy recorded a pair of strikeouts. Giolito one-upped his counterpart by striking out the side on changeups.
The White Sox got on the board in the top of the second. With two outs, Luis Robert doubled for the team’s second hit of the night. With Zack Collins at the plate, Robert stole third and charged home on a wild pitch to make it 1-0 visitors.
Mike Trout became the Angels’ first baserunner when he walked in the fourth with two outs. Anthony Rendon also walked, which triggered the first mound visit from new pitching coach Ethan Katz. Justin Upton drove home the first run for the Angels with a broken-bat single to center. Trout crossed the plate to tie the game at 1-1.
Tim Anderson reached for the first time in the fifth with a one-out single up the middle. Adam Eaton followed with a two-run jack for the team’s first long ball of the season, which made it 3-1 Good Guys.
The Angels answered right back in their half of the fifth. Max Stassi powered a ball deep to center field to pull his team within one, making the score 3-2 White Sox.
After Giolito induced a Shohei Ohtani line out to right field, manager Tony La Russa made the decision to pull Giolito for Codi Heuer in the sixth inning. The White Sox ace went 5.1 innings while giving up a pair of runs on a pair of hits with eight strikeouts, six of which came in the first three innings.
Heuer walked Trout and gave up a bullet single to Rendon. Upton relieved the pressure when he sent a laser to Moncada for a 5-4-3 double play to end the threat.
The Angels went to the pen in the seventh inning with Aaron Slegers, a 6-foot-10 right-hander. Bundy’s line was stamped at six innings, six hits, three earned runs, and six strikeouts.
With one out, Nick Madrigal reached on an infield single but was then thrown out by Stassi trying to swipe second. The call at second base was extremely close and Madrigal insisted he was safe. La Russa ultimately did not challenge the ruling on the field, which was a questionable decision, to say the least. The White Sox had nothing to lose and a base runner to retain, but the game trudged on nevertheless. Anderson struck out on the next pitch to end the frame.
The eighth inning was an uneasy one for the White Sox. Aaron Bummer entered from the bullpen and David Fletcher immediately reached on an infield single that deflected off Bummer’s glove. Ohtani grounded a ball to Madrigal but his throw pulled Anderson off the bag to put two on with no outs. During Trout’s plate appearance, a ball in the dirt slipped past Yasmani Grandal, allowing Fletcher to reach third and put runners at the corners. Trout subsequently tied the game at three with an RBI single. Bummer then fanned Rendon before walking Upton to load the bases for Albert Pujols. Pujols dribbled a slow roller to third that forced Moncada to take the only out, which was at first. Ohtani scored to give the Angels a 4-3 lead.
After the damage was done, Matt Foster relieved Bummer. Foster elicited a groundout by Jose Iglesias to end the sloppy inning.
The White Sox went quietly against Angels’ closer Raisel Iglesias, who retired the side easily in the top of the ninth to seal his team’s first win of the season and drop the White Sox record to 0-1.
One major mistake — Madrigal’s defensive miscue — started all the ruckus in the late going. That play combined with Grandal’s passed ball ultimately cost the White Sox the game. While the result is frustrating, there’s no need to panic just one game into the season.
What’s On Tap Next?
The White Sox will look to avenge their Opening Day loss when they take on these same Angels on Friday night. Dallas Keuchel gets the ball for the South Siders while Andrew Heaney takes the mound for the Angels. First pitch is scheduled for 8:38 PM CT.
Be sure to tune in to the Sox On Tap podcast all season for White Sox analysis, commentary, and postgame shows.