KANSAS CITY -- There is a palpable excitement about the White Sox as the club's crop of top prospects are expected to begin to emerge on the big league level, signaling a turning of the corner back toward contention.But third baseman Matt Davidson, more of a veteran presence than purely
KANSAS CITY -- There is a palpable excitement about the White Sox as the club's crop of top prospects are expected to begin to emerge on the big league level, signaling a turning of the corner back toward contention.
But third baseman Matt Davidson, more of a veteran presence than purely part of that prospect core, made a statement on Opening Day at Kauffman Stadium, blasting three home runs to lead a 14-7 blowout of the Royals on Thursday.
Davidson, who had never hit three home runs in a game at any level, fronted a six-homer barrage (tying the MLB record for the most by a team on Opening Day) that said loud and clear: This White Sox team could be dangerous. Davidson joined the Tigers' Dmitri Young (2005 vs. the Royals), the Cubs' Tuffy Rhodes (1994 vs. the Mets) and the Blue Jays' George Bell (1988 vs. Kansas City) as the only players to hit three homers on Opening Day.
"I'll definitely look them up now," said a smiling Davidson of the players who make up this elite Opening Day fraternity. "It really hasn't set in yet. It's a great start, and I just want to keep it going. It was a great team effort today."
"What an incredible day he had," winning pitcher James Shields said of Davidson. "Really happy for him. He works his butt off every day, and to have a day like that is pretty special."
Davidson followed a two-run Jose Abreu home run off Royals starter Danny Duffy in the fourth with a solo blast to left, the first time in franchise history with back-to-back jacks on Opening Day. With his second homer, Davidson became the fifth White Sox player with two homers on Opening Day, joining Alejandro De Aza (2014), Jim Thome (2008), Sammy Sosa (1991) and Minnie Minoso (1960).
Tim Anderson, who struggled at times last season due to family issues and the tragic shooting death of his close friend, became the sixth when he connected off reliever Blaine Boyer in the fifth for a two-run shot, coming three batters after Davidson went deep for the second time. It was Anderson's first multi-homer game. Davidson became the first player since Statcast™ was introduced in 2015 to hit multiple homers of 114 mph exit velocity or higher in the same game. His previous career high was 112.6 mph, so these were his three hardest. Davidson's third home run, a three-run jack, came off Brian Flynn in the eighth.
"Davidson had a heckuva day," Duffy said. "He's obviously seeing the ball really well."
Shields overcame a rocky four-run first inning by then pitching five scoreless innings. He retired 15 of the final 18 batters he faced.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Sox dig the long ball: A 4-0 deficit quickly turned into a 5-4 White Sox lead in the fourth courtesy of South Side power. Abreu started the scoring with a two-run homer off Duffy and Davidson then gave the Sox their first back-to-back homers in franchise history on Opening Day to cut the lead to 4-3. Anderson tied the game three batters later, before Yoan Moncada's double put Chicago in front to stay. More >
"We just go out and have fun," Anderson said. "We put together some good ABs and helped Shields out and got back in the ballgame."
Duda goes deep: First baseman Lucas Duda, who signed during Spring Training, belted a three-run home run in the first inning, becoming the first player to homer in his first at-bat with the Royals since Adam Moore in 2012. Duda hit a 2-0 cutter from Shields a projected 410 feet from the plate, according to Statcast™, into the right-center-field seats, giving Kansas City a 4-0 lead at the time. More >
"We want everybody to have days like I had today, on the other side of the ball, defensively and pitching. We're a family here, and we want to see everybody have those games like today."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Shields is 8-2 with a 4.18 ERA in 14 career starts vs. the Royals. He hasn't lost to his former club since Oct. 1, 2010, when he was with the Rays.
White Sox:Lucas Giolito makes his season debut in the middle game against the Royals at 6:15 p.m. CT on Saturday. The right-hander posted a 2.38 ERA over seven starts for the White Sox last season.
Royals: Right-hander Ian Kennedy will get the start against the White Sox on Saturday at Kauffman Stadium. Kennedy went 5-13 with a 5.38 ERA in 2017. He posted a 7.65 ERA in four starts against the White Sox.
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Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.