Friday, June 2, 2023

Burger’s Bomb Propels White Sox But Kelly Departs With Injury


Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Rich Hill was throwing pitches at speeds that mirrored a fan throwing on the speed pitch in the center-field concourse, not that of a major league starter on Wednesday night. Regardless through four innings, the White Sox could not register a hit on his 70 mph curveballs.

The White Sox offense looked stagnant once again, going hitless through four innings. But in the fifth inning, they finally broke through. Jose Abreu led off with a double and AJ Pollock reached on a throwing error, which set the stage for Jake Burger.

Burger had just been recalled from Triple-A Charlotte in place of Luis Robert, who was placed on the COVID-19 IL on Wednesday. Tony La Russa penciled Burger in as the White Sox designated hitter on Wednesday night and the 26-year-old made the most of his opportunity. He was unphased after bouncing up and down between Charlotte and Chicago.

“I want to play baseball, and I want to compete no matter where I’m at,” Burger said.

Hill uncorked a looping 67 mph slider and Burger did not miss. He sent it 444 feet into the left-field stands to give the White Sox a three-run lead. It left his bat at 110 mph.

“I don’t know how I hit it so hard,” Burger told reporters after the game with a smile. “It felt good for sure.”

His three-run blast was all that the run support the White Sox pitching staff would get. As it turns out it was all they needed.

Lucas Giolito struggled with command, walking four batters, but was able to battle his way to a quality start. He tossed six innings striking out seven batters. The only run he allowed came in the first inning when Alex Verdugo hit a two-out bloop single for an RBI.

Giolito was solid the rest of the way and was able to work around three walks and three hits. He received some help on the defensive end in the top of the sixth inning when Andrew Vaugh laid out to catch a sinking line drive off the bat of Christain Vazquez for the final out of the inning.

Giolito earned his third win of the season for his efforts and was appreciative of Burger’s contribution at the plate.

“Huge home run to give us the lead there. He’s been a wonderful teammate, he works his ass off. I look forward to seeing him contribute more.”

The White Sox bullpen slammed the door the rest of the way but it wasn’t without some drama. Aaron Bummer entered the game in the seventh inning and immediately retired the first two batters he faced. But after allowing a two-out single to Rafael Devers, Tony La Russa turned to Kendall Graveman.

Graveman allowed a single to J.D Martinez then walked Xander Bogaerts to load the bases. He was able to escape the jam by inducing a groundout.

Joe Kelly was tasked with handling the eighth inning. He looked sharp striking out the first two batters he faced. He got Trevor Story to strike out looking for the first out. But, after getting Franchy Cordero to swing through a knuckle-curve for out number two, he grabbed his left hamstring with his glove. After pacing around the mound, a White Sox trainer attended to him before he limped to the dugout.

Liam Hendriks was then thrust into the eighth inning to try ad record a four-out save. He got Christian Vasquez to ground out to end the eighth inning but ran into some trouble in the ninth.

After getting Jackie Bradley Jr. to ground out he walked Enrique Hernandez. Hendriks managed to strike out Rafel Devers on a 99 mph fastball and brought the go-ahead run to the plate when he walked J.D Martinez.

That brought Xander Bogaerts to the plate. Bogaerts hit a weak pop-up into shallow right field. Andrew Vaughn. came racing in and had to avoid a collision with Josh Harrison to secure the final out.

With that, Liam Hendriks recorded his 14th save of the season and fifth in a row in as many opportunites. The victory also moved the White Sox to a game over .500 at 22-21.

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