CHICAGO – For all the deep breaths he took before the game, Chris Sale sure was a picture of calm once he stepped on the mound. More important for the White Sox, he was the definition of dominant.
Sale outpitched James Shields, Tyler Flowers homered and the White Sox beat the Kansas City Royals 1-0 in the season opener on Monday.
The White Sox believe they’re in position to make a run at the AL Central title even though they made no splashy additions while the rest of the division loaded up. They’re off to a good start after a late fade left them three games behind Detroit a year ago.
A dominant performance by Sale and Flowers’ drive leading off the fifth against Shields were just enough to beat a team that’s trying to make a big jump after finishing with a losing record 17 of the past 18 seasons. It also gave the White Sox a rare win over the Royals, who took 12 of 18 from them a year ago.
Sale, a first-round draft pick in 2010 out of Florida Gulf Coast University, said the toughest part of Monday’s game was the wait beforehand. But he watched other games and took deep breaths, trying to clear his mind. I tried not to hurt myself with my own thoughts, he said.
Sale (1-0) showed the form that made him a 17-game winner and an All-Star in his first season as a starter. On a chilly day when the game-time temperature was 44, he allowed just seven hits and struck out seven while walking one.
Sale backed up the White Sox’s decision to reward him with a new five-year deal this spring and the opening day start.
I think a lot of stuff’s been thrown at him in spring training, manager Robin Ventura said. He gets the contract, he gets the opening day. There’s a lot of expectations of him, but that all comes with it.
Shields (0-1) was a tough-luck loser even though he gave the Royals what they envisioned when they acquired him from Tampa Bay. The former All-Star lasted six innings, allowing one run and eight hits while striking out six without a walk.
RED SOX 8, YANKEES 2: In New York, Jon Lester and Boston got off to a quick start after a dreadful 2012 season, giving new manager John Farrell an opening-day win over barely recognizable New York.
Newcomer Shane Victorino led a revamped Red Sox lineup with three RBI, and rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. walked three times and scored twice in his big-league debut. Boston’s big day against CC Sabathia (0-1) came a year after it lost its first three games under Bobby Valentine and went on to a 69-93 finish.
Facing a Yankees lineup minus injured Derek Jeter for the first time since 2001 and just three starters from opening day a year ago, Lester (1-0) gave up five hits and two runs in five sharp innings against the defending AL East champions.