ANAHEIM, Calif. — Manager Tony La Russa probably liked his chances of winning his first game in his second go-around with the White Sox when he pulled ace right-hander Lucas Giolito with one out and nobody on base in the sixth inning on Opening Night.
After all, the Sox bullpen has been touted as one of baseball’s best all spring long, and in came Codi Heuer and his 99-100 mph heat to get the pen rolling in 2021.
Heuer navigated through some trouble and five outs, but La Russa and the Sox find themselves at 0-1 after a 4-3 loss in which left-hander Aaron Bummer served up the tying and go-ahead runs in the eighth inning. Both runs were unearned because of a throw by second baseman Nick Madrigal that pulled shortstop Tim Anderson off second base, so it’s not time to write off the Sox pen just yet. Especially after one game.
“He deserved better,” La Russa said of Bummer.
Mike Trout roped a tying single and Shohei Ohtani scored the go-ahead run on Albert Pujols’ groundout to Yoan Moncada in the eighth inning. That followed an 11-pitch walk against Bummer in the eighth.
“We talk about it daily, winning each day,” Bummer said. “We lost today, that’s on me in my opinion. Got to be better next time. We did a lot of things right but the bullpen didn’t finish it off. Tough one to swallow.”
Giolito struck out six of the first nine batters he faced and exited with two runs allowed on two hits and two walks, threw 87 pitches.
“Early in the season, I threw a lot of pitches through five innings,” Giolito said. “Bullpen can take it from there, it’s all good.”
The move almost backfired as Heuer issued a four-pitch walk to Trout and a single to Anthony Rendon before Upton hit into a double play — on a 107 mph one-hopper gloved by Moncada.
Madrigal was caught stealing on a close play in the seventh but La Russa did not challenge, although he wanted to. A new rule gives teams 20 seconds to make that decision, down from 30 last year, and the Sox were late asking for a challenge.
Adam Eaton broke a tie with a two-run homer.