Given the circumstances, Erik Johnson pitched above expectations in the Chicago White Sox 6-5 loss to the New York Yankees Wednesday night in the Bronx. The 23-year-old right-hander was making his Major League debut at legendary Yankee Stadium against one of baseball’s most star-studded lineups. Despite allowing seven hits and walking three Yankee hitters, Johnson was charged with just three earned runs in his six innings of work.
Arguably the most impressive memory from Johnson’s debut, was his ability to work out of a first inning jam. After retiring the first two hitters he saw, the righty allowed a home run to Robinson Cano, and then proceeded to load the bases. To his credit though, Johnson was able to strikeout one of the game’s top contact hitters in Ichiro Suzuki to end the inning and escape any further damage.
Ultimately, a tough fourth inning, where he allowed four runs (two earned), killed Johnson’s chances of picking up a victory in his first Major League outing. Although his record now sits at 0-1, the White Sox have to be very pleased with how their highly touted hurler preformed in his first opportunity against big league hitters. His stellar mechanics and his ability to compete on the big stage were definitely on display Wednesday evening, and if there was one word to sum up Johnson’s night it would have to be “encouraging”.
Moving forward, it looks as if Chicago could possibly have a reliable starter in Johnson for years. If he can have some success in his final starts of the 2013 season, and he shows some development next spring, Johnson could be the arm to fill the Sox’ fifth starter role in 2014.