A tough ending followed a promising start to the South Siders’ season opener. The Chicago White Sox began the 2022 campaign 0-1 after losing a game in which they led the Detroit Tigers by a score of 3-0 after five innings.
The White Sox opened the scoring in the first inning when Eloy Jimenez singled in Jose Abreu. In the second frame, a single by newly acquired outfielder AJ Pollock plated Jake Burger, who led off with a double. Luis Robert doubled home Pollock to extend the early White Sox lead. Lucas Giolito looked sharp in his first start of the year allowing just one hit with two walks and six strikeouts.
Things Take a Turn
However, things quickly soured for the visitors. Giolito left the game after the four innings with left abdominal tightness.
Hopefully, his ailment is nothing serious, but Tony La Russa expressed some concern following the game.
Bennett Sousa relieved Giolito with a scoreless fifth inning before Kyle Crick made his White Sox debut in the sixth. The righty struggled with his control, recording just one out after allowing a hit and a walk.
La Russa called on Kendall Graveman in a high-leverage situation to face switch-hitting Jeimer Candelario. On a 2-2 pitch that appeared to catch the outside corner, Graveman did not get the call and the count went full. The Tigers’ third baseman hit the next pitch, which caught too much of the plate, into right-center and drove in a runner left on by Crick. Next, Graveman’s sinker induced a Miguel Cabrera groundball to shortstop Leury Garcia. A 6-4-3 double play ensued thanks to Candelario being called out at second for runner’s interference.
Graveman pitched the seventh and made quick work of the Tigers. But in the eighth inning, Aaron Bummer got into a bit of trouble by putting two on with one out. He gave up a two-strike single to Javy Baez that loaded the bases for Candelario, who had driven in Detroit’s lone run. A very close back door slider appeared to nip the inside corner and Candelario was retired on strikes.
However, with two outs and Liam Hendriks in to relieve Bummer, Cabrera singled in Robbie Grossman and Austin Meadows. Hendriks was not himself. After allowing the two-run game-tying single, he hit Jonathan Schoop. Akil Badoo grounded out to third base for the third out of the inning, finally ending the bleeding — at least temporarily.
The White Sox had led up until that tumultuous inning. After Detroit’s rally, the AL Central foes were deadlocked at 3-3 going into the final frame.
Things Take Another Turn
In the ninth inning, Tigers manager AJ Hinch questionably called upon left-handed reliever Gregory Soto. The Chicago White Sox feasted on lefties pitching in 2021, and Friday’s small sample size indicates that trend will continue in 2022.
Andrew Vaughn, a young slugger who carried a .938 OPS last year, was due up to lead off the White Sox half of the ninth. The right-handed Vaughn made Hinch and his club pay for the decision to deploy Soto. Vaughn knocked the first pitch he saw into the left-field seats at Comerica Park, putting the Sox back on top 4-3.
The Final Letdown
The White Sox went back to closer Liam Hendriks looking to lock down the game in the bottom of the ninth. He struck out Spencer Torkelson — a top prospect — who went 0-4 on the day.
However, Hendriks didn’t seem to have any confidence in his slider. Eric Hasse eventually caught up to the EIGHTH consecutive fastball he saw and took it out of the park to tie the game at four. Hendriks came back to strike out Grossman, but then things went really bad.
Meadows picked up Grossman with a line-drive triple into the right-center gap. Javier Baez, who had just missed a homer in his prior at-bat, hit a long fly ball to right field. AJ Pollock tried to corral it on the warning track and he initially appeared to make a juggling catch that would have sent the game to extra innings.
But the replay showed Pollock closed his glove too soon, causing the ball to bounce off his leather and then off the wall. Official review ruled the play a single for Baez, resulting in a walk-off win for the Tigers and anguish for the White Sox.
Overall, it’s hard to drum up positives from this game after such a disappointing collapse.
Yes, White Sox hitters only struck out three times and chased the Tigers’ No. 1 starter early in the game. AJ Pollock had a nice debut at the plate and stretches of quality at-bats helped the South Siders jump out to an early lead.
But Giolito’s injury and top bullpen arms faltering in high-leverage situations soured 2022 White Sox Opening Day. It was a deflating loss charged to a bullpen that was slated to be the strength of the team.
What’s On Tap Next?
Nevertheless, 161 games remain on the slate.
Looking ahead to Saturday, the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers will do battle at the same time and place. Dylan Cease takes the mound for the Pale Hose and Detroit will counter with Casey Mize. The game will air on NBC Sports Chicago with first pitch scheduled for 12:10 PM CT.
Tune in to the Sox On Tap podcast for additional postgame reaction and further White Sox commentary all season.
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