The Chicago White Sox finished off the first week of the 2013 season by defeating the Seattle Mariners in two out of three games. Like the first series versus Kansas City, the White Sox offense was lead by a number of home runs. Hitting home runs should never be considered as a negative, but the White Sox would like for their hitters to find other ways to score runs. Granted, it has only been six games, but the homers should continue as the White Sox have always been a home run hitting team. Hopefully, unlike other years, they don’t become too reliant on long ball and start to manufacture some runs by getting on base at a higher clip. If they can’t do that, then the White Sox may be susceptible to scoring droughts and a few lengthy losing streaks as the season progresses.

Friday, April 5th – Mariners 8 White Sox 7

The White Sox offense was able to erase a 6-1 deficit to force extra innings, but ultimately it was not enough to get a win. With the White Sox trailing 6-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning, Alejandro De Aza hit a 2-run homer off of starter Blake Beavan. Two batters later, Alex Rios hit a solo home run to bring the score to 6-5. Later, Rios tied the game at 6-6 with an RBI groundout in the seventh. After Seattle scored two runs in the top of the 10th inning, the White Sox were able to score one run on a Dewayne Wise single, but left the bases loaded to end the game. Although the White Sox were unable to come away with a victory, it was encouraging to see the offense able to fight and make a comeback. If they can continue to do that, then there will be some games later in the season where the Sox will be able to steal some wins.

Jose Qunitana made his first start of the season, and ran into a wall in the fifth inning. After serving up a leadoff home run to Franklin Gutierrez, Quintana was able to hold the Mariners offense scoreless through the first four innings. In the fifth, Quintana gave up five straight hits after committing an error by dropping the ball while trying to cover first base. That would be all for Quintana as he was unable to record an out in the inning. Quintana ended up allowing 6 runs (5 earned), on eight hits, two walks, and three strikeouts. Relievers Matt Lindstrom, Donnie Veal, and Jesse Crain combined to pitch four scoreless innings before giving the ball to Nate Jones. Jones pitched a scoreless ninth inning, but ran into trouble in the tenth inning. He gave up two runs on four hits, and suffered his first lost of his career after going 8-0 last season.

Saturday, April 6th – White Sox 4 Mariners 3

After losing Friday night’s game in extra innings, the White Sox seemed to be in trouble with Felix Hernandez going to the bump on Saturday. The Sox managed just six hits off of King Felix, but were able to score four runs on the afternoon. Alex Rios lead the offensive attack with a 2-run bomb off of Hernandez in the sixth inning to give the Sox a 3-1 lead. Alejandro De Aza and Hector Gimenez accounted for the other two runs batted in, and Conor Gillaspie was 2-for-3 with two runs scored in his first start of the year. It wasn’t a particularly great day offensively for the Sox, but they did just enough against one of the game’s best pitchers to get the win.

Dylan Axelrod made his first start of the season, and he was very effective in his five-plus innings of work. Officially, Axelrod pitched 5.2 innings and allowed one unearned run on three hits. He walked two and struck out three. The White Sox would love for Axelrod to be able to pitch like this for the duration of John Danks’ recovery, but if he is asked to be a full-time starter well into the summer, then the White Sox rotation may be trouble. Addison Reed came on to pitch a scoreless ninth inning and recorded his third save of the season. Check out my post on why I think Reed’s success can continue.

Sunday, April 7th – White Sox 4 Mariners 3

On Sunday, the White Sox were only able to get five hits, but once again hit enough home runs to win the game. Adam Dunn hit a long two-run homer in the bottom of the first inning to tie the game after Michael Morse hit a two-run shot of his own in the top of the inning. After a Kendrys Morales home run gave the Mariners the lead, Alex Rios hit a solo homer in the seventh inning to tie the game at 3-3. The score would stay the same for the final two innings and led to extra innings. In the bottom of the 10th inning, Dayan Viciedo ended the game on one swing. The “Tank” sat on hanging sinker and absolutely crushed it into the left field bleachers. Viciedo has been struggling throughout the better part of the first six games, so it was great to see him do something positive to end the homestand.

Chris Sale made his second start of the season and pitched well. Sale went seven innings, while allowing seven base runners (5 hits, 2 walks) and recording seven strikeouts. Sale got into trouble because he served up two home runs on the afternoon, but those were his only big mistakes. Relievers Matt Lindstrom, Jesse Crain, and Addison Reed combined to pitch three scoreless innings to finish the game. Reed struck out Michael Morse with runners on first and second to end the 10th inning before the Viciedo walk-off. Reed ended up being credited with a win, and he now has three saves and one win in four appearances.

Record: 4-2, 1st place in AL Central (0.5 game lead)

Up Next: A three games series at the Washington Nationals (4-2) begins Tuesday.

Tuesday, April 9th at 6:05pm CT: Jake Peavy (1-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

Wednesday, April 10th at 6:05pm CT: Gavin Floyd (0-1, 3.00 ERA) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (1-0, 1.50 ERA)

Thursday, April 11th at 6:05pm CT: Dylan Axelrod (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Dan Haren (0-1, 13.50 ERA)

Prediction: This will be a very tough series to win as the Nationals are arguably the best team in baseball. Luckily, the White Sox won’t see Stephen Strasburg, but they do have to face the 2012 NL CY Young Winner, Gio Gonzalez, in Game 1. If Jake Peavy can find a way to outpitch Gonzalez and get the White Sox a victory, then this will be a winnable series. The Nationals have the advantage in Game 2 with Jordan Zimmermann on the mound. Zimmerman is one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball because he gets lost in the discussion behind Strasburg and Gonzalez. In Game 3, the White Sox have decided to send Dylan Axelrod to the mound instead of Jose Quintana based on matchups. If Axelrod can pitch anywhere close to how he did on Saturday, then the White Sox should get a win if they are able to get to Dan Haren. Haren is coming off a down year in 2012 and struggled mightily in his first start. I’d love to take the White Sox in this series, but I have to side with the Nationals. Washington wins two out of three.

-Eric Tichelbaut

Follow me on Twitter @etichel07