The script was conceived months ago, but getting the performances to play out according to plan was the unknown.
If the White Sox give “director” Robin Ventura the same performances they did in a 5-2 victory Friday against the Detroit Tigers at U.S. Cellular Field, there will be plenty of curtain calls this season.
There was a sparkling outing for leading man Jake Peavy, who allowed only two hits, one of them a two-run homer to Sox killer Delmon Young in the seventh.
There was all-out baserunning from an unlikely co-star in Paul Konerko, who will be remembered more for scoring from first base in the sixth on an equally unlikely triple from catcher A.J. Pierzynski than for extending his hitting streak to seven games.
There also was dazzling defense from supporting cast members Dayan Viciedo and Alexei Ramirez to help kill Tigers rallies. Viciedo made a diving catch to his right of Andy Dirks’ sinking drive to end the seventh, stranding runners at second and third. Ramirez made a backhanded grab of Miguel Cabrera’s liner ticketed for center field to start an inning-ending double play in the eighth.
“I think we’re that kind of team that has to do that kind of stuff,” Ventura said.
“Opening Day is fun, and there was a lot of energy in the park and the boys played hard,” said Peavy, who snapped a five-game home losing streak with eight strikeouts and one walk in 62/3 innings. “That’s how we’re going to have to play. I think Robin and the coaching staff and Kenny [Williams] have tried to instill in us, ‘Let’s join as a unit and try to make this happen.’ It’s going to have to be that way to beat that [Tigers] team.”
Peavy (1-0) and Tigers starter Max Scherzer (0-1) were matched up in a masterful duel. Viciedo broke through with a homer in the fifth, and Konerko and Pierzynski each drove home another run in the sixth.
“You don’t see that too often,” Pierzynski said of his triple, though the more rare sight was new third-base coach Joe McEwing waving Konerko home.
“It’s a call by Joe, but you have to have the guys running hard, and Paulie was running hard,” Ventura said.
“You’re supposed to run hard until you get to third,” said Konerko, who anticipated a stop sign. “I was coming, and Joe was waving.”
That play might become rare in the days ahead, but expect the attitude behind it to remain.
There still were signs of woe in Adam Dunn’s four strikeouts and Gordon Beckham’s three, but Ventura isn’t worried yet.
“It’s still early in the season,” he said. “Everyone likes making a good impression, but sometimes you try to do too much. I’m not worried about it. We’ll have some guys strike out, but today it was overcast and sometimes hard to see. There were a lot of strikeouts on both sides.”
Relievers Will Ohman, Addison Reed, Matt Thornton and Hector Santiago (third save) escaped without yielding a run thanks to the defense. Santiago gave up a leadoff single to Prince Fielder in the ninth and put him on third with a wild pitch and a balk. Santiago also struck out two to strand Fielder.
“It’s early in the year and we’re playing with ‘small thoughts,’ and that’s good,” Konerko said. “Play for each inning, and that’s the way we have to keep it.”