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White Sox beat Rays 8-7; Palka’s smash helps Sox to series sweep

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Sox grab first three-game series sweep since August of last season...

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Tampa Bay Rays
Sweep Emotion: The Sox turned in their best series of the year in St. Petersburg this weekend. It was their first road series sweep since April 2016.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Nothing like playing a three-hour, 38-minute matinee on getaway day, right?

It was one of those slow-paced, mound-visit-friendly type of days in St. Pete today. But hey, who cares? The Sox grabbed a victory thanks to some late-inning Daniel Palka magic.

The big man crushed (I mean absolutely torched) a two-run home run into the balcony seats in right-center field in the top of the ninth. The bomb was 112 mph off the bat, with a launch angle of 28 degrees, good for a distance of 439 feet. Why a pitcher would throw him a fastball down the middle is beyond me, but I’m certain Palka wasn’t complaining.

As White Sox fans are aware by now, no lead is safe with this bullpen. The Sox turned to Hector Santiago to nail it down in the ninth, and the lefty had some trouble.

Santiago allowed an RBI double to sub-.200 hitting Kevin Kiermaier. With men on first and second and one out, Santiago got Jesus Sucre to bounce into a 5-4-3 double play to end it. Phew.

However, it wasn’t easy getting to that final out for the Sox.

The Rays got on the board first in the first inning on a Joey Wendle RBI single. That inning alone took a good 30 minutes.

James Shields just didn’t have it today (and really had no rhythm, either). Maybe it was him trying to get on the same page with recently called-up catcher Dustin Garneau, but Shields took forever in-between pitches to deliver the ball.

Shields ended his day going six innings, giving up two runs on five hits and four walks. He escaped multiple jams to end with a quality start.

The Sox did come right back in the second and tied up the game on a Tim Anderson RBI knock. The official scoring gave Anderson a hit, but the ball sliding underneath the glove of shortstop Willy Adames could have easily been ruled an error.

The Rays added two runs of their own in the third on some small ball. Wendle laid down a bunt single to score Jake Bauers, and Ji-Man Choi added a sac fly to give the Rays a 3-1 lead.

The game was quickly approaching an hour-and-a-half as the Sox took their turn at bat in the fourth. Anderson cut the lead in half with another RBI single to score Nicky Delmonico. Garneau then joined the fun with an RBI hit of his own in the next at-bat.

After the Rays failed to score in the fourth, Avisail Garcia dropped down on one knee and launched a solo shot down the left field line. The strength of Avi certainly helped that one get over the fence.

Leury Garcia gave the Sox a 5-3 lead with an RBI single later that inning. He would eventually be replaced by Adam Engel when Leury came up limping after tracking down a sinking line drive in center field in the eighth inning. If Leury goes to the DL, I’m sure Eloy Jimenez would take nicely to a promotion. Just sayin’.

Avi Garcia would add another home run, this time to the opposite field, in the seventh to give the Sox a 6-4 lead. The Rays then came back with a two-RBI single off the bat of Choi.

But thanks to Daniel Palka, all is well (well, maybe not all) and the Sox now have a four-game winning streak.

The team will head back to Chicago and welcome the New York Yankees for a three-game set at the Rate starting tomorrow night.