Royals score five off Samardzija, rout White Sox 10-1 on Opening Day
Subscribe for unlimited digital access.
Try one month for $1!
Subscribe for unlimited digital access. Try one month for $1!
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jose Abreu hit a 418-foot home run. And, oh, Micah Johnson had a 13-pitch at-bat that was good.
Johnson, making his major-league debut Monday, also had his first hit.
And then he got picked off in a play that captured the essence of this dud of a lid-lifter on the 2015 season.
For the White Sox, there wasn’t much to get excited about after the 10-1 beating administered by the Kansas City Royals on Opening Day. The Sox won the offseason, most experts said, so this deflating loss was not the follow-up they expected or wanted.
“We move on,’’ said Jeff Samardzija, who struggled to command his offspeed pitches, finally failing after two scoreless outings in his previous openers for the Cubs. “That’s what we do. We’re baseball players.
“We’ve got a heck of a player [Jose Quintana] pitching for us the next time out [Wednesday]. We’ll jump on his back and let him get the job done.’’
Almost to a man in the clubhouse, the Sox downplayed the loss, knowing the opener is always magnified and that 161 games remain.
“A lot of games left, so we’re going to keep playing and learn from this,’’ said Samardzija, who walked three, struck out one, hit two batters and gave up six hits.
Not that the Sox went down without stirring things up a bit. After Royals starter Yordano Ventura hit Avisail Garcia with a pitch, Samardzija hit Alex Gordon. And after Mike Moustakas homered against Samardzija (who gave up nine homers in spring training), Samardzija hit Lorenzo Cain.
Cain stared Samardzija down while walking to first. Moustakas was at the top of the dugout yelling at Samardzija, and for a brief minute, it looked like things could escalate.
“Nothing,’’ Samardzija said. “Just hit him. He didn’t like it. I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to hit him. He probably didn’t feel good, so he didn’t like it. Boys playing baseball, no big deal.’’
There were no more incidents, only more damage inflicted by the Royals, but there are two games left in the series, so stay tuned.
Moustakas’ homer, an opposite-field shot in the fifth, put the Royals in front 4-0. They added five in the seventh, three on a home run by former Sox outfielder Alex Rios, who was making his Royals debut. That blast came against Kyle Drabek, the waiver claim pitching in his first game for the Sox.
Ventura gave up one run — Abreu’s homer — in six-plus innings before leaving with a cramp in his right thumb. The way he writhed in pain on the grass near the mound had everyone at Kauffman Stadium — including the Sox — concerned for his health. But Royals trainers said it’s not serious.
Nor, the Sox say, is the state of the club after one game. As bad as that looked.
“We were joking about that before the game,’’ said veteran cleanup man Adam LaRoche, who went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in his first game with the Sox. “This game probably will be analyzed more than any other game of the year. But that’s just baseball. It happens every year. Obviously not the way we wanted to start it up. The key is to shake that one off and come right back out Wednesday ready to go.’’
The Royals did have a handful of bloop hits, and the Sox — Alexei Ramirez on two occasions — had some hard-hit outs. But the Royals seemed to feed off the energy of a sold-out crowd that was celebrating the team receiving its American League championship rings.
“It was their day to have those fall in, and I’m hoping that happens for us on Wednesday,’’ manager Robin Ventura said.