The White Sox are back — and play a terrible opener in Oakland in every regard
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OAKLAND, Calif. — How else to describe 72-plus hours of extreme winter weather over the weekend in Minneapolis, with snow coming down in an unyielding blizzard, temperatures in the 20s, wind-chill readings in the teens, pedestrians nowhere to be found on the streets and visitors all but confined to their hotel rooms?
“It felt like a week’s vacation,” White Sox left fielder Nicky Delmonico said. “Like a spring break or something.”
Care to try that again, Nicky?
“I mean a winter break,” he said with a laugh. “More like a winter break, yeah.”
It was an understandable mistake. Everyone around the Sox had to be more than a little thrown off by the white-out at Target Field, which postponed three consecutive Sox-Twins games from Friday to Sunday.
Monday’s ugly 8-1 defeat in the opener of a three-game series against the Athletics wasn’t exactly a stroll on the beach. A chilly rain fell on a 50-degree evening — and this after a minor hailstorm here earlier in the day.
“We’re probably bringing the weather with us with our plane wherever we go,” designated hitter Matt Davidson cracked.
Unfortunately, that’s not all they brought. The Sox resumed their trends of anemic offense and sketchy defense. They were dominated by A’s starter Daniel Mengden, who got his first win at the Coliseum after an 0-10 start in his home park. And they committed three errors in the bottom of the seventh, when the A’s broke the game open.
Sox starter Reynaldo Lopez continued to pitch well without offensive support. The 24-year-old allowed two runs and struck out 10 in six innings. It was the ninth consecutive start, dating to last season, in which Lopez lasted at least six innings and the first double-digit-strikeout game for a Sox pitcher since Lucas Giolito fanned 10 in September 2017. Lopez struck out a career-high 11 in a 2016 start as a member of the Nationals.
The last time three straight Sox games were postponed had been on September 12 and 13 of 2008. (The latter day was intended to be a doubleheader that included a makeup game.) The last time any major league team faced at least three days in a row of postponements had been in April 2007, when all four days of an Indians-Mariners series in Cleveland were snowed out.
So this sort of occurrence certainly was beyond the norm.
“The last three days have been really long,” third baseman Yolmer Sanchez said. “I mean really, really long. It was crazy.”
Sanchez said the break from the full routine of game day actually left his body feeling off — a little sore — even though the Sox worked at a normal rate in the indoor batting cages and bullpen, and the gym at Target Field. Davidson said being cooped up took a bit of a toll.
“We’re such routine people, athletes,” he said. “We haven’t played for so long, it feels like it’s been a month, almost. But we’re here and we’re excited to play.”
The Sox came in hoping for a chance to hit the reset button after a 4-8 start that included a worse performance in their only homestand — one victory in six tries — than anyone would’ve predicted. Manager Rick Renteria sees no reason for worries about rust or need for any other excuses.
“I think the guys are ready to go out there and get some dirt underneath their feet again and start playing some baseball,” Renteria said.
“We’ve been doing everything we could possibly do other than [Sunday] when we traveled. Hopefully, they’ll go out there and their timing hasn’t been lost very much, we’re catching the ball, we’re pitching well. I don’t look for it to be something where I anticipate a huge anomaly or poor play. My hope is that they’re going to be able to manage what they need to even though they’ve had a couple of days down.”