Yasmani Grandal slugged a game-tying home run in the eighth inning and Andrew Vaughn delivered a two-run double in the ninth as the Chicago White Sox beat the host Houston Astros 3-2 on Thursday.
Vaughn plated Tim Anderson and Luis Robert Jr. with his one-out hit off Astros closer Ryan Pressly (0-1). Grandal struck an inning earlier off Astros right-hander Rafael Montero, erasing a one-run deficit with his 401-foot solo blast to right-center field with two outs.
Reynaldo Lopez, Chicago's fourth pitcher, picked up a white-knuckle save despite allowing a 442-foot solo home run to Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez with one out in the bottom of the ninth. Lopez recovered and struck out Yainer Diaz with the tying run on base.
White Sox right-hander Dylan Cease was exceptional, flashing the form that led to his second-place finish in American League Cy Young balloting last season He surrendered a leadoff single to Astros shortstop Jeremy Pena in the first inning then followed by retiring 19 consecutive batters.
Cease overwhelmed the Astros with his plus breaking balls. He generated six swinging strikes with his slider and five more with his knuckle curveball, both of which complemented a four-seam fastball that averaged 97.1 miles per hour. Of his 86 pitches, 27 were fastballs.
Yet, despite his brilliance, Cease did not complete his outing unscathed. He hit Alvarez with a pitch with one out in the seventh and surrendered a single to Jose Abreu. Cease departed having recorded 10 strikeouts without issuing a walk. He allowed two singles over 6 1/3 innings.
Cease matched the franchise record for strikeouts in an Opening Day start set by right-hander Jack McDowell against the Baltimore Orioles on April 8, 1991.
Upon entering in relief of Cease, White Sox left-hander Aaron Bummer loaded the bases with a walk to Kyle Tucker and uncorked a wild pitch two batters later that plated Alvarez and spotted Houston a short-lived 1-0 lead. A half-inning later, Grandal knotted the score with his homer.
Astros left-hander Framber Valdez allowed six hits and posted four strikeouts over five scoreless innings. Houston had its modern-day record of 10 consecutive Opening Day wins snapped.
--Field Level Media