Opening Day was very kind to Chris Sale.
Matter of fact, there are.
Three things stood out after digesting the White Sox' 1-0 victory over the Royals.
Chris Sale is Worth Every Penny
He limited the vaunted Royals offense to seven hits and no earned runs over 7.2 innings. And make no mistake about it, the Royals can hit—especially Sox pitching.
Last year, they finished with a mighty .279/.336/.410 slash line against the South Siders. Addison Reed had an ERA over 13.00 and Sale lost three of his eight games against the Royals in 2012. Ouch.
Monday was different. White Sox manager Robin Ventura noted during his post-game presser that Sale has matured as a pitcher (via ESPN.com). He is right.
Sure, he got into a jam when he loaded the bases with one out in the third inning, but overall, Sale delivered exactly what Ventura and the sell-out crowd hoped for.
His Opening Day performance is not a fluke. Sale has the goods.
There is No Middle Ground for Tyler Flowers
Tyler Flowers is going to have an interesting year, and Monday may be a microcosm.
He struck out with runners on first and second in the bottom of the second inning, smoked the game-winning home run in the fifth and hit a towering pop up in the sixth. He also caught a shutout and played some exceptional defense behind the dish.
Expect it to be this way for the remainder of the season. Flowers will hit his share of home runs, but challenge Adam Dunn for the team lead in strikeouts.
He will also do wonders for a relatively young pitching staff.
Flowers will demand a lot of patience from White Sox fans this season.
Pitching and Defense is the Name of the Game
The White Sox collected eight hits, scored one run and struck out nine times Monday. They also went 0-6 with RISP. It was a rather unimpressive offensive showing at U.S. Cellular Field.
How much do you expect from the White Sox offense?
It will, most likely, be like that for a majority of the season.
The good news is that the White Sox are not built around offense. The more important stat line against the Royals was the defensive one.
They turned two double plays, Gordon Beckham made an outstanding catch on a rocket off the bat of Lorenzo Cain and White Sox pitching held the Royals to one hit—a rather unimpressive infield single by Alcides Escobar—in six at-bats with men in scoring position.
Matt Thornton and Addison Reed looked great in relief and—while the Royals stole two bases—Flowers handled some tailing breaking balls quite nicely.
The White Sox were crisp and efficient all game.
To be sure, it is only one game.
This one game said a lot though.