CHICAGO – A lot of the chatter before their first game at Guaranteed Rate Field in 2022 had to concern the players that weren’t on the White Sox for their home opener.
Another rash of injuries, including the official placement of pitcher Lucas Giolito and outfielder AJ Pollock on the IL Tuesday, has greeted the club at the start of a season full of expectations. They join Lance Lynn, Garrett Crochet, Yoan Moncada, and others who are watching instead of playing early in this campaign.
Yet for a second-straight year, the White Sox are showing their ability to fight through it for success in the very early going. That included their first opportunity to show fans at home what they can do in 2022.
Aided by a strong game by Luis Robert and efforts by a quartet of bullpen pitchers, the White Sox beat the Mariners 3-1 at Guaranteed Rate Field to improve to 3-2 on the young season. It marks the second-straight year that the team has won their home opener and the third time in four years that they’ve done so.
Tuesday was also the first full capacity opening home game since 2019 when the team also defeated the Mariners. A paid sellout of 36,948 was on hand to see this victorious effort on a seasonable warm but a little windy day on the south side.
Vince Velasquez was able to go four innings in the first start of his White Sox career as he surrendered just a second inning homer to Eugenio Suarez. He gave up two hits and three walks with two strikeouts in a 62-pitch effort, but needed help from his center fielder midway through the outing.
Robert saved at least one run and maybe two with a wall-crashing catch in center field in the third inning with two runners on that kept the deficit at one. The White Sox would tie the game in the bottom half of the inning when Tim Anderson’s grounder to short was mishandled by Seattle shortstop JP Crawford, allowing Josh Harrison to score.
Robert then put the White Sox ahead with a 408-foot solo homer to right-center in the sixth inning, his first of the season, to give the team 2-1.
Then it was the bullpen that was able to hold the lead the rest of the way as five pitchers finished out the final five innings. Bennett Sousa started with two outs in the fifth before Reynaldo Lopez came in to throw 1 2/3 perfect innings to keep the Mariners at one run through the first out of the seventh.
Aaron Bummer had an eventful time the rest of that inning, walking a batter, striking one out, then walking another before fanning Jesse Winker to end the frame with no damage. Kendall Graveman gave up a double in the eighth but got out of that with an inning-ending strikeout of Jarred Kelenic.
Robert would help get the White Sox some insurance in the bottom of the eighth inning when he got a walk to lead off the inning. After Jose Abreu drew his own walk and Yasmani Grandal flew out, Robert would score on a force out as Eloy Jimenez was able to beat the throw at first that would have been a double play.
Liam Hendriks, pitching for the first time since giving up the lead twice on Opening Day against the Tigers on Friday, came in the ninth. He would get two strikeouts but allowed three hits, including an RBI single to Winker, to make it 3-2.
But he was able to avoid a disastrous finish for a second-straight game as he struck out Mitch Haniger to end the game and get his first save of 2022 along with the White Sox first home win of the new year.