Whatever the reason, it was not a positive outing results-wise for Brewers starter Mike Fiers in the 8-3 White Sox victory at Camelback Ranch. Fiers, penciled in at the back end of Milwaukee's rotation, allowed seven runs on eight hits over three innings. He struck out one, walked two and allowed home runs to Jeff Keppinger and Gordon Beckham.
"I had no idea where the ball was going," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of Fiers' performance. "He's got one more outing, hopefully he looks better. Couldn't command, couldn't throw strikes for anything."
Keppinger's solo shot in the second and Beckham's two-run, two-out drive in the third were both no-doubters. Alejandro De Aza and Alex Rios, who were gone for the last three weeks as part of the World Baseball Classic, knocked out two hits apiece in their return.
White Sox Opening Day starter Chris Sale was efficient through his seven innings of work. The southpaw needed just 59 pitches to get through the first five frames. He yielded three runs on four hits, including Ryan Braun's inside-the-park homer in the first inning and Donnie Murphy's homer in the third.
"He's a good pitcher," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of Sale. "Today, he just goes out and I think it's kind of the classic stuff you'd see from him. Again, getting him ready for Opening Day. I'm happy with his progress right now."
Braun's home run hit off the top of the center-field wall 410 feet away and bounced back on the field. He circled the bases, beating the throw to the plate by a few steps. Sale fanned three and walked one, also getting the help of three double plays.
Keppinger had two more hits on the afternoon, leaving him 16-for-31 (.516) during Cactus League action.
Up next: It took 24 Cactus League games to get under the lights, but the White Sox play their first of two straight night games Friday in Phoenix against the A's, live on MLB.TV at 9:05 p.m. CT. Jose Quintana gets the start for the White Sox and is expected to throw approximately 100 pitches. Hector Santiago will follow Quintana to the mound, along with Jeff Gray, Brian Omogrosso and Ramon Troncoso. All three have a chance for the final bullpen spot if Jesse Crain begins the year on the disabled list.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.