Mark the date: July 27, 2021, the day Eloy Jiménez showed that he is definitely back. And how!
Eloy’s three-run, 459-foot blast in the eighth brought the White Sox from behind to victory, and a happy time it was. But tape-measure homers you expect from him. (Why do we call them tape-measure? Nobody makes 459-foot tape measures.)
It’s what came from Eloy earlier in the game that was unexpected — some pretty nifty D, none of it ending in injury to himself or any teammates. First came a nice running catch, one left fielders are expected to make, but Eloy rarely flashed such leather. Then a throw nailing Michael Taylor at the plate trying to score on a single — not a tough play, because Jiménez was playing very shallow and Taylor should never have been sent and the throw was off-line, but it didn’t matter because Zack Collins had plenty of time to adjust. But still ...
And then there was a nice grab, just off the grass of a sinking liner in the sixth that could well have eventually led to multiple runs.
To the big blast in a moment, but first a little game synopsis, in which we demonstrate that the No. 2 MVP of the game for the Sox was Mike Matheny, because the Royals manager just kept on making one stupid decision after another.
Starter Brad Keller had a pretty easy go of it for Kansas City, surviving Eloy’s first hit, a 64 EV dump into right to lead off the second that was — we have to say it, what with Hawk just inducted in the Hall of Fame — a Kansas City special, which was followed by a 10-pitch Gavin Sheets walk, but then three quick outs.
Dylan Cease had a tougher second, walking Jorge Soler on four pitches, yielding a single to Andrew Benintendi that sent Soler to third, and a sac fly to Hunter Dozier. That would have been it, but the weakness of having Eloy in left turned out to be moving Andrew Vaughn to right, where he’s not used to liners arcing away from his glove side, so he dropped Taylor’s for run No. 2. Up came Nicky Lopez, a weak-hitting lefty, which is why Eloy was playing so shallow that he could peg Taylor out. That was a stupid decision by the third-base coach, not Matheny, but he’s responsible for his staff, right?
Sheets got a run back on a 118.9 mph EV, 429-footer in the fourth, the only run Keller gave up.
Cease gave the run back in the bottom half on a Benintendi double and Ryan O’Hearn single, which was followed by a Dozier single and Eloy’s nifty grab ... 3-1, KC. Still, Dylan had a decent night, three runs, two of them earned, on six hits in six innings.
In the fifth, Whit Merrifield was called out at second stretching a leadoff single, and while even Jason and Stoney believed he was really safe, Matheny didn’t challenge, the second time in the game he eschewed a challenge he would probably have won, according to both video and our own announcers. Maybe he’s saving all his challenges up for September. So, threat avoided. Thanks, Mike!
Matheny’s next helping hand came in the home seventh. Reliever Reynaldo López walked Dozier and was struggling with his control, so naturally Matheny called a hit-and-run on a pitch Taylor had no chance to reach. Dozier out, López confident, threat avoided.
Matheny was saving his best help for the eighth. Because the White Sox generally kill mediocre lefties, he inexplicably brought in mediocre lefty, no-control-artist Jake Brentz, who immediately gave up a double to Leury García, hit pinch-hitter Adam Engel on the foot, advanced them both on a wild pitch, got Tim Anderson on a shot to third, and gave up a run on a Yoán Moncada shot to second.
Still 3-2 KC, José Abreu up. That’s the José Abreu who has had a rough July, is on a 1-for-14 streak and represents the lead run. In comes righty Kyle Zimmer, and Matheny — get this —walks Abreu intentionally to get to Eloy. Why, when Eloy has always hit righties better? Who knows. Well, Matheny knows, maybe, possibly.
But the result was inevitable.
After that, it was just Michael Kopech and Liam Hendriks mowing them down, and ballgame!
And in just 2:36.