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Monday, April 1, 2013
Rapid Reaction: White Sox 1, Royals 0

By Doug Padilla



CHICAGO -- Solid pitching and just enough offense got the Chicago White Sox off on the right foot Monday with a 1-0 victory on Opening Day against the Kansas City Royals.

How it happened: Chris Sale showed that the role of staff ace fits him just fine. The left-hander, making his first Opening Day start, went 7 1/3 scoreless innings while allowing seven hits. It isn’t easy replacing a fan favorite so Tyler Flowers made it easy on himself, stepping into A.J. Pierzynski's shoes by hitting a home run. Alex Rios reached base three times and had the first hit of the season, a single in the first inning.

What it means: The pitching was supposed to lead the White Sox and after one game, anyway, the formula has come through. Sale led the way followed by Nate Jones, Matt Thornton and Addison Reed to close it out in the ninth. Despite planning it this way, the White Sox still expected more offense, but found the going tough against Royals ace James Shields.

Outside the box: The offense still needs to come around, but in the meantime Gordon Beckham's improved defense made a difference. With a runner on first base and nobody out in the seventh inning, Beckham made a diving catch up the middle on a line drive from Lorenzo Cain. He even made the play while being screened by second-base umpire Hunter Wendelstedt. Instead of two runners on base and nobody out, Sale got the out from Beckham before getting Jeff Francoeur to ground into an inning-ending double play.

Off beat: Monday was just the sixth season opener in U.S. Cellular Field history and the White Sox are now 5-1 in those games. The park opened in 1991, but in the first 14 years of its existence, the White Sox played the first game on the road. They requested that the 1991 opener be played on the road to get as much time as possible to finish construction on the park, but the next 13 were by choice of the league schedule-maker.

Up next: After Tuesday’s off day, the White Sox will send Jake Peavy (11-12, 3.37 ERA in 2012) to the mound in the second game of the season Wednesday. The Royals will counter with Ervin Santana (9-13, 5.16) in the 1:10 p.m. start from U.S. Cellular Field.