Sox stuff it to the Royals, 11-5
First thing’s first:
Happy Gio González Day! It’s been a long time coming, a few tears (and teams) in-between, but we finally have a Gio start.
The tears are for the moments that the Sox had Nick Swisher instead of Gio. And for the reminder that Frank Thomas was a DH for Oakland in 2008 when González debuted (Thanks for that in-broadcast factoid, Jason).
Tim Anderson being out with a right groin strain sucks, but I’m glad he’s taking the time to rest it instead of plowing through the shortened season. Hopefully we see him back healthy and strong soon. Danny Mendick is serviceable at short in a pinch, but we all love TA.
However, Tim continues to have some struggles defensively. I’m hoping that’s just a bit of ring rust with the start-and-stop of spring training/Summer Camp. Until he is able to cleanly make the simple defensive plays, I don’t think he’s going to be considered an elite shortstop. Batting titles and stolen bases alone aren't going to cut it.
With Tim being on the 10-day IL, a lineup shuffle led to Luis Robert in the top spot. Robert leading off is a great choice; he's got crazy speed and adjusted quickly to being in the majors. It looks like he's adjusting within each at-bat. I’d like to see him take a few more pitches, but as he adjusts to major league pitching any potential problems will sort themselves out. Given how quickly he's growing, he'll be just fine.
Thanks to Bubba Starling for this assist, by the way. Someone may want to tell him that this isn’t hockey, and you don't get points for assists.
The Royals pitching could be summed up as "having some command issues" all night long. Exhibit A is the first-inning hit parade:
Robert’s second plate appearance ended with a home run, and eventually pushed great baseball tactician Mike Matheny to dig into his bullpen at the top of the second ... but only after Moncada singled and Abreu grounded out to short.
Doing damage to the bullpen on both Friday and Saturday can only be good news for the Sox on Sunday. Matheny had to go deep tonight so it'll be interesting to see what tomorrow looks like pitcher-wise. I wonder if they cover shitty bullpen management in "The Matheny Method."
Madrigal is still on the hunt for his first major league hit, but he'll get there. He flew through the minors, and we have to remember that not everyone is going to come up hitting everything right away. His hit is coming, and it's going to be a big one. Madrigal has a keen eye, so it's just a matter of adjustment to new pitching.
A continued problem is that Sox need to be able to capitalize on their baserunners. There's too many scoring opportunities left out there, and capitalizing on those would have made it less painful when Jace Fry blew the shutout in the sixth. Good news is that the Royals are also not great at capitalizing on baserunners, so the couple of early times where Gio got himself in a jam didn't hurt our guys.
Despite all the talk about his command being off tonight, Gio González had a good showing in 3 2/3 scoreless innings with five hits, three walks, and six strikeouts in his debut. We were also treated to the major league debut of Matt Foster. His scoreless debut inning was respectable, with 16 pitches and ... a first major-league win!. Codi Heuer also got treated to his first career save tonight.
All in all, fans got to have a fun 11-5 win and a two-player cycle watch (both Eloy and Luis ended the game a triple short) and 21 hits for the team. I'll take it.
Bonus Content: Here’s a shot from earlier today of EE having some fun with the “fans”:
And I still hate Kansas City.