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Angels 4, White Sox 3: Ruined Masterpiece

Chicago White Sox v Los Angeles Angels
Yoán Moncada and José Abreu of the Chicago White Sox react after the double play at the end of the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Angels on Opening Day at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on April 1, 2021. | Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

Giolito, Eaton, Moncada, Robert all star, but a meltdown eighth sealed the Chisox’s fate

Anaheim, or wherever it is these Angels play, was heartbreak city for the Chisox on Opening Day.

The White Sox squandered seven innings of masterwork on all sides of the ball, with a fall-from ahead, 4-3 loss to start the season.

The game started fabulously, for both sides. The White Sox took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the eighth, and we were witnessing as well-played a game as is imaginable for an April Fools’ Day affair.

Both sides had executed tremendously in a tight battle that stood in stark contrast to some of the comical turns taken in earlier games (misplaced homers in blizzards, blown saves, 16-inch softball pitching). You betcha it’s dew on the outfield grass cheesiness, but there were looking to be no losers in this game.

But then, the eighth happened. After a pinball single off of Aaron Bummer allowed David Fletcher first base, Gold Glove minor-leaguer Nick Madrigal gakked a double-play grounder by Shohei Ohtani in what was very generously ruled a fielder’s choice. A passed ball from Yasmani Grandal moved the runners onto the pond, and with Mike Trout up 3-1 in the count, he sliced a single to left to tie the game. Justin Upton battled Bummer through a tough at-bat, drawing a walk to pack the sacks, which turned an Albert Pujols RBI ground out into the game-winning RBI.

Such a shame how this one wheezed to its ending, given how delightfully it began.

Luis Robert had a nice bounce-back game from a dismal end of 2020 and rough spring with a tidy 1-for-3 night, including his usual serengetic defensive range, generating the first run of the game out of thin air. With two out, he legged a hustle double, stole third with laughable ease, and trotted home without a slide on a wild pitch that dribbled all of 20 feet from home plate.

As if dropping a tip for catcher Max Stassi’s generosity, Robert left a hefty hunk of jewelry at home plate.

Note to La Pantera: Tuck in that bling if you’re gonna be Pete Rosing it into third.

Meanwhile, Lucas Giolito was cruising. He got off to an unprecedented start, becoming the first White Sox Opening Day starter to begin a game by striking out the side. Ever. He cruised almost all the way through four. Unfortunately, the ace let up with two out, walking Mike Trout and Anthony Rendón, then leaving a juicy slider over the plate on 0-2 that Upton sent through the box to tie the game.

Then, after a two-out single from Tim Anderson, Adam Eaton went BOOM.

Just like that, 3-1, White Sox.

Stassi, no clubber, sure loves Giolito offerings. He got a run right back, with a homer that screamed out to center (105.8 mph) with one out in the bottom half. This, after José Iglesias positively smoked a 109.2 mph line out to Robert.

Giolito escaped the fifth, but after Ohtani crushed the first out in sixth to Eaton in right, Codi Heuer came on and was ... lucky? After a walk to Trout and single to Rendón, Upton crushed a grounder to third that Yoán Moncada picked for a 5-4-3 to get out of the inning.

For a frame, that looked like the play of the game. In the loss, it’s just another DP in the box score.

The White Sox are back at it tomorrow night, running sub-2.00 ERA tosser Dallas Keuchel to the mound in what is touted as being Andrew Vaughn’s major league debut. Colleen Sullivan has your South Side Sox coverage, and one relief for her — no ties in tomorrow night’s contest.

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