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Garrett Crochet dazzles in first career start, but Sox bats are cold on Opening Day originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

In the offseason, Garrett Crochet told general manager Chris Getz he wanted to be a starter. After holding a 2.13 ERA with 14 strikeouts in spring training, no one seemed to disagree.

With the trade market at a standstill, Getz told reporters back in February to expect Dylan Cease to take the mound for the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on Opening Day. One month later, Cease was traded to the San Diego Padres. The Opening Day role was vacant, and it was Crochet who got the nod. He would become the first White Sox pitcher in over 120 years to make his first career start on Opening Day.

It was a splendid outing for the left-handed flame thrower on Thursday in a 1-0 loss to the Tigers. Crochet picked apart Detroit’s lineup through six innings of work. He finished the day with a career-high eight strikeouts and no walks, giving up just one run on six hits — all singles.

“It took me a couple innings, I feel like, to get my feet underneath me and really catch my breath,” Crochet said after the game. “The first inning, obviously a lot of emotions flowing. But yeah, I don’t think it could have gone better than that.”

Crochet touched 99.8 mph in the second inning and kept his fastball up to 98 mph by the end of his outing. The command was pinpoint the whole way through, with his slider accounting for three of his eight punch outs.

“I had a lot going on pregame, and then once I stepped on the mound, it was night and day difference,” he said. “The emotions of excitement and nervousness seemed to just wash away once I stepped foot on the rubber.”

White Sox manager Pedro Grifol can pat himself on the back for having the guts to put a first-time starter on the mound on Opening Day. Though he can’t say he’s surprised by the outcome.

“Really, what’s there to talk about,” Grifol said after the game. “He’s 6’6. He comes right at you. He’s not afraid. He makes his pitches. He’s got weapons to get people out. So he stood out there like a man today and did his job.

“… This outing doesn’t shock me. It doesn’t surprise me. I’ve talked about this over and over again. When you have a pitcher with that type of stuff that has that will and that drive to prove that he can do something, it just doesn’t surprise me.”

The Tiger’s lone run came in the third inning on a sacrifice fly after Javier Báez singled, stole second and got to third on a groundout.

That blip was enough to win the game for the Tigers, who held White Sox batters to just three singles through nine scoreless inning. Crochet was great, but Tarik Skubal was better. Luis Robert Jr., Andrew Vaughn and Eloy Jiménez accounted for the White Sox’ three hits. Everyone else was 0-for-3 or 0-for-4. No South Side hitter was walked.

“There’s no way of looking at a loss,” Grifol said. “The way I see things is we did some really good things on the field today. We got to improve on other things, and if we want to be a contenting club, we have to find ways to score runs and beat those type of pitchers.

“Those are the guys that are pitching in October, so you got to be able to beat them here if you want to be able to participate in that type of baseball tournament.”

The White Sox and Tigers go at it again on Saturday when Michael Sorokal, who the White Sox got from the Braves in the Aaron Bummer trade, makes his South Side debut. First pitch is at 1:10 p.m.

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