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The host Sox started their A team, including freshly converted starter Chris Sale. The Cubs went mostly with youngsters. Both teams scored in the first inning, but after that it was all Cubs, with number-nine hitter Edgar Gonzalez mashing a two-out, two-run homer off Sale, followed by solo shots from Marlon Byrd and Steve Clevenger off Sox reliever Nathan Jones. The final was 5-1, as the Cubs drew (admittedly weak) first blood in the crosstown rivalry.
Still, it was a pleasure to watch the first baseball broadcast of the year, with the Sox crew of Ken "Hawk" Harrelson and Steve Stone airing on WGN TV. It was a brisk, well-played game (but for an opening error by Cubs starter Travis Wood). Sox pitching phenom Nestor Molina hurled two scoreless innings late, atoning for a rough debut, and the Cubs' Dae-Eun Rhee was equally sharp, if with less-impressive stuff.
Adam Dunn did not strike out, thus disappointing his early K Watch followers, but did not homer either, although he hit a couple of warning-track flies to left. His fellow comeback candidate Alex Rios drove in the lone Sox run with a sacrifice fly to deep center in the first, scoring new leadoff man Alejandro De Aza.
The most egregious error was committed by the Hawk, who lost track of the outs in one frame. But it truly is still early. As new Sox manager Robin Ventura said in his first in-game interview, "We just have to get it all ironed out before we head north."
For now, it was enough that for a couple hours it felt like baseball season.