Good morning, frents!
Not to pat myself on the back, but I've been digging the trivia questions I've been writing lately. And today's might be my favorite.
Let me know if you got it right. And if you dig it, maybe share it with a friend who will dig it too? Go get yourself that koozie 🍺
An Opener to Remember
It was just last week that David Brown recounted the 10 most memorable openers — home or away — in White Sox history.
Now we might have to figure which one to boot from that list.
Some postseason success this year should solidify its spot, but there's no question Thursday's 6-0 win over the Royals should stand on its own.
Though rain delayed the start by almost two hours, the Sox quickly made the wait worth its while for the 8,000 or so fans allowed into the ballpark.
A Jose Abreu double in the first inning was followed by a two-run homer by Yoan Moncada, which was followed by a Yermin Mercedes home run.
And not just any home run, either. Mercedes' introduction to Chicago fans was a 485-foot bomb that almost reached the left-field concourse and measured as the longest home run in baseball so far this year.
The roar it elicited from the fans was also something you'd expect from a much bigger crowd and reflected both the distance of the blast and Mercedes' sizzling start out west. On a road trip otherwise marked by some disappointment, Mercedes was the undisputed highlight with an 8-for-8 start and an AL player of the week award.
Now the 28-year-old is batting .555 six games into his rookie season and ensuring he'll always be at least a fondly remembered footnote in Sox history.
And if he wants to be more than that this season?
Well, we'll take that too.
Thing is, Mercedes was arguably not even the day's biggest star for the Sox.
That honor goes to starter Lance Lynn, who pitched the first complete-game shutout in the majors this season. The freshly acquired right-hander struck out 11 and walked none, retiring the first 12 Royals batters and giving up just five hits.
I'd say it was a great Lamarr Hoyt impression from the Lamarr Hoyt impersonator, though the 1983 Cy Young Award winner never reached double-digit strikeouts in any of his five shutouts with the Sox (or in any game in his career, ever).
But it was a performance the Sox needed. The team's rotation did a turn and a half without any starter going deep and the bullpen asked to figure out more than 10 outs a night. Wednesday's loss to the Mariners was marked with Seattle's punchless offense posting a seven-run run sixth and causing Tony La Russa to call his own performance "lousy."
Thursday's rainy triumph got the Sox back to .500 at 4-4 and quickly changed the narrative and mood. Today's off-day will be followed by two weekend games against the Royals and then a four-game home set against Cleveland.
Whether or not the Sox capitalize on the opener remains to be seen, but they couldn't have set the table any better. The lineup is still powerful despite its absence and the third starter is capable of playing stopper just as well as the ace.
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News and results
Final: Cubs 4, Pirates 2
It took awhile to get here, but it's fun getting a taste of the vintage Craig Kimbrel experience, isn't it? Kimbrel recorded his 350th career save in a unique fashion, needing only 22 pitches to get the first five-out save of his career. Kimbrel has yet to allow a hit in 4 2/3 innings of work this season.
- "Plan is to get 400 now," said Kimbrel and I'm on board, though a rejuvenated Kimbrel almost certainly means a traded-by-the-deadline Kimbrel.
- The offense awakened a bit upon arrival in Pittsburgh, too. The Cubs recorded 11 hits — more than half of their previous six-game total — while Javy Baez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo homered.
- Three of the Cubs' four victories this season have come against starting pitchers with the last name Anderson (2x Tyler, 1x Brett). Do with that information as you will.
Final: Bulls 122, Raptors 113
Think the Bulls could get used to playing depleted teams? The Raptors had already lost 15 of their previous 18 before entering Thursday's game with just eight players. Nikola Vucevic and Zach LaVine each scored 22 points while Lauri Markkanen came off the bench to score 18 points in 18 minutes.
- Beat Atlanta tonight and the Bulls will have their first four-game winning streak since December 2017.
Final: Stars 5, Hawks 1
Wave goodbye, because those are the Hawks' playoff chances disappearing over the horizon. Thursday's loss dropped the team four points back of Nashville while the Stars now only trail them by three points with three fewer games played.
- The day's bigger headline was Stan Bowman pulling the trigger on another deal with the Panthers. They'll use a bit of their cap space to eat Brett Connolly's contract so they can also obtain a high-ceiling project in former first-rounder Henrik Borgstrom. There's no guarantee it works, but I like the thinking.
There are 11 relievers in baseball history with more saves than Craig Kimbrel and three of them pitched for the Cubs.
But two of those three never even saved a game for the Cubs. Name them.
- Bulls players were vaccinated before departing on the current five-game road trip. Tribune
- The Red Stars kick off their season tonight with a NWSL Challenge Cup match in Houston. Here's a preview. Red Stars
- The Sky's new jerseys are fantastic. NBC Sports Chicago
- Here for all the Michal Handzus nostalgia content that Scott Powers wants to give me. The Athletic
- You guys loved yesterday's donuts link, so here's one for the best bagels in Chicagoland. WBEZ
Trivia answer: Dennis Eckersley and Joe Nathan. The duo saved a combined 767 games, but not a single one for the Cubs. (Lee Smith is the third man — 180 of his 478 career saves came in a Cubs uniform.)