The White Sox couldn't have asked for much more from Derek Holland on Friday night.
Their defense, that's a different story.
Holland looked sharp in his 2017 debut, but the Minnesota Twins played great defense and the White Sox didn't as they fell 3-1 in front of 14,004 at Guaranteed Rate Field. After spending his entire career with the Texas Rangers, Holland allowed three runs (two earned) and four hits in six-plus innings in his White Sox debut.
The White Sox made three errors in the loss.
"It was a good first start, way to get things going," Holland said. "I'm glad it was over with too, the first start. I did everything I could.
"I thought I had good control of everything. One pitch is the only thing that got away, when I hit (Eduardo) Escobar. Other than that, hats off to those guys."
The White Sox acquired Holland on a one-year, $6-million deal in December with the idea of helping him rebound and potentially trading him sometime this summer. They had a vacancy in their rotation created by the departure of Chris Sale and were headed towards a rebuild.
From the time he signed and throughout the spring Holland said he was excited to pitch for Don Cooper and to find the health that has evaded him since 2013. Holland thought the issues that limited him to 38 games (35 starts) were a thing of the past.
The left-hander looked pretty convincing in his first turn.
Not only was Holland efficient, he worked quickly. He retired the first six batters he faced and then escaped a third-inning jam unscathed with the help of a 6-4-3 double play.
"(Holland) was throwing the ball well," second baseman Tyler Saladino said. "Made a lot of good pitches, got out of some jams there when we really needed it, too. Some good double plays. Overall, it was a really good game for him."
Holland may have done the same in the fourth inning had it not been for his defense.
The pitcher allowed a leadoff double to Robbie Grossman before striking out Byron Buxton. Grossman then advanced to third on an errant pickoff throw by Holland — one of two consecutive miscommunications by the White Sox.
The latter arrived on Miguel Sano's lazy fly ball to right that should have been caught. But with Jose Abreu and Tyler Saladino converging on him, Avisail Garcia dropped the ball, which allowed the tying run to score. Garcia also made an error in Thursday's victory.
Sano doubled in the go-ahead run off Holland in the sixth inning. Holland exited after he walked the leadoff man in the seventh, the only free pass he issued. Holland threw strikes on 59 of 93 pitches and struck out five.
But Nate Jones couldn't prevent the inherited runner from scoring. Chris Gimenez doubled down the left-field line and a fan interfered with the play. Plate ump Chris Guccione awarded Eduardo Escobar to score from first on the interference.
"We had a couple of miscues on our side," manager Rick Renteria said. "But it seemed like (Holland) was able to minimize the damage regardless of those particular situations.
"He was attacking the strike zone. I think he helped minimize damage. He did a nice job. He kept us in the ballgame."
The White Sox ran into some stellar defense by the Twins outfield.
Buxton took hits away from Tyler Saladino and Cody Asche in the first inning. Saladino's ball had a 71 percent chance of becoming a hit and Asche's was 82 percent, according to Baseball Savant. If either had fallen the White Sox may have taken a huge early lead against Phil Hughes. As it were, they scored a run on three straight singles by Tim Anderson, Cabrera and Jose Abreu.
Right fielder Max Kepler robbed Tim Anderson of at least a run-scoring double to end the fifth inning with a diving grab. And Eddie Rosario made a leaping catch at the wall in the sixth to take extra bases away from Todd Frazier.
At least White Sox five batted balls with better than 40 percent chance of being a hit were caught by the Twins.
"That's a heck of a couple plays there," Saladino said. "That's going to happen. (Buxton) can fly, cover ground.
"Yeah, it could have gone otherwise, but that's part of baseball."