The White Sox have won a game!
A 5-4 victory that frequently looked like it might send the White Sox into a Worst Season Ever 0-5 certainly puts things in perspective. At the beginning of the day, Chicago was a Brewers win and a loss away from being the only 0-5 team in the majors. Instead, the White Sox sit at 1-4 alongside several other teams, many of which fancy themselves contenders.
Right now, the Braves and Phillies are a combined 8-2 while the Nationals, Marlins and Pirates are all 1-4 alongside the White Sox. We heard repeatedly that anything can happen over the course of a few games, but seriously: anything can happen over the course of a few games.
The White Sox seemed to hold a distinct advantage on paper with the matchup of Jeff Samardzija against Mike Pelfrey. If I were a Twins fan, I think Pelfrey's presence would drive me insane. The Twins signed him initially for 2013 when, at age 29, he had consistently posted atrocious K-rates while letting in tons of runs and failing to show anything resembling a usable second pitch. He was predictably abysmal in 2013, logging an ERA above 5.00. And after that, the Twins gave him two more years at $11 million. I am completely baffled as to who else was bidding on Pelfrey where he could command multiple years and eight figures, but I suppose I shouldn’t complain about the Twins being dummies.
Things were very dark, then, when Samardzija struggled through the first inning and Pelfrey had a 1-2-3 on seven pitches in the first inning. Then, Samardzija gave up 4 runs in the second, and White Sox fans were starting to go to depressing places. Fortunately, Samardzija flipped the switch after that and the White Sox scored five unanswered runs to grab their first win of the season.
Jeff Samardzija — If going six innings and seven innings while allowing four runs each outing is a Crisis or a Disaster for Shark, then that’s actually a pretty good situation. The aesthetics matched the results once Samardzija got past the second inning (and frankly, the defense didn’t do him any favors as Avisail Garcia botched a play in right to account for a baserunner in the inning as well), as Samardzija seemed to shake off his attempts at being too fine and just let loose. He was ripping off 96 mph heat with significant armside break and grabbing strikes with his slider. It took a little while, but White Sox fans got a look at why Shark can be a front line starter.
Geovany Soto reminded us that, when healthy, he can be a starting caliber catcher, hitting a bomb for a game-tying home run, and then putting a charge in another pitch 400 feet to center field. Thanks to a sweet Micah Johnson tag and instant replay, Soto caught a would-be base stealer (and, according to Farmer and DJ, should have had another CS earlier in the game). While I applaud the White Sox for their boldness in stashing Nieto on the major league roster to make a Rule V claim, Soto is clearly a colossal upgrade at backup catcher.
David Robertson — Yes, it was against Chris Herrmann, Shane Robinson, and Danny Santana, but he looked fantastic. As Dave Brown pointed out on Twitter, it’s awfully nice seeing Robertson come in to protect a one-run lead than Ronald Belisario. His curve has such sharp break, and his fastball was easy and explosive at 93-94 mph. After a somewhat shaky spring, it was nice to see him strike out the side in order.
Alexei Ramirez is off to a really, really rough start at the plate, and Adam Eaton is swinging at everything. For a guy whose primary attribute is selectivity and patience, this is an unwelcome development and Eaton should just be himself. Chris Herrmann also got away with blocking the plate a couple of times, although perhaps I don't understand the new blocking the plate rules as clearly as I should.
Seriously, Micah Johnson's tag was amazing, and evidently even got him off of Matt Adams' "I Don't Like You" list.
Happy Chris Sale Day, everybody!
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