CLEVELAND — As major-league debuts go, Matt Skole had a pretty good day.
For the White Sox, who blew a four-run lead built in large part om Skole’s single and home run in his first two at-bats, it was just another bad day at the office. A disastrous fifth inning featuring three errors and additional defensive problems led to five Indians runs and a 9-6 loss.
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“It’s a shame that we can’t be celebrating right now for him,’’ Sox starting pitcher Dylan Covey said.
Hours after being called up from Class AAA Charlotte to replace Matt Davidson (back spasms) on the Sox’ 25-man roster, Skole, 28, was floating around the visitors’ clubhouse, anticipating his first game as a major-leaguer. He was in the lineup batting fifth and playing first base.
“Oh, man, it’s surreal, really,’’ Skole said. “I don’t think it’s really settled in yet.’’
Skole would become the first Sox player to homer in his debut since Miguel Olivo did it against the Yankees on Sept. 15, 2002, and the sixth to do it in franchise history. The others: Russ Morman (1986), Craig Wilson (1998), Carlos Lee (1999) and Joe Borchard (2002).
Skole said he was still floating afterward. He was floating so high during the game that “I kind of blacked out there a couple of at-bats.’’
“I couldn’t have dreamed of anything better to start my big-league debut,’’ he said. “It was unreal.’’
Skole, who struck out looking and walked in his last two plate appearances, had a .259 batting average, a .360 on-base percentage, 12 doubles, five home runs and 15 RBI in 42 games for Charlotte.
He left a major-league park Monday with quite the Memorial Day memory. And with the first-hit and home-run baseballs in his pocket, as well as his Memorial Day camo jersey.
“I just told myself it would be the same game and just go out there and do what I’ve been doing, and I let my ability take over,’’ he said.
There were cheers and screams from his family near the first-base side of the seats after Skole’s single in the second inning, a sharply hit ball to right. The homer, also against right-hander Adam Plutko, who no-hit the Cubs for six innings in his last outing and carried a 2.03 ERA into the game, sent up a roar in an otherwise quiet stadium in the fourth inning.
“I’m sure my dad [Mike] was crying like a baby,’’ Skole said. “I was fortunate they were here and got to make it in time for the game and got to see that. It was really special.’’
Since getting drafted by the Nationals in the fifth round of the 2011 draft, the left-handed-hitting Skole’s career has been saddled with injuries, including a torn left (non-throwing) ulnar collateral ligament in 2013. After entering the 2017 season rated as the best power hitter in the Nationals’ organization, he was limited to 64 games with Class AAA Syracuse because of quadriceps and oblique injuries.
Skole, who signed with the Sox as a minor-league free agent Jan. 22, said he needed “to sit down for about 30 minutes to get myself together” before calling his family with the news Sunday night.
“I was shaking, I was so excited,’’ he said of that call. “It’s been a long journey for me. I’ve been through a lot of stuff: injuries, being in the minor leagues, on and off the roster. It’s been a long road, so just to get that call and make that call to my dad and mom, it was pretty cool.”
“He gives you a great at-bat,’’ manager Rick Renteria said. “We saw that in the spring.
“This is his window now.’’