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Los Angeles Angels v Chicago White Sox
Struck out cancer: Liam Hendriks returns to the mound
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Angels 6, White Sox 4: Liam Hendriks is a winner, despite the loss

Unfortunately, there was no Hollywood ending for the Good Guys

The game’s best highlight had nothing to do with the baseball that the White Sox played on the diamond. It was the return of closer Liam Hendriks after battling stage 4 non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Hendriks completed his last round of chemotherapy in April and was declared cancer-free. He was activated before tonight’s game.

After two fantastic outings, Michael Kopech struggled mightily out of the gate. After walking Mike Trout and plunking Shohei Ohtani, Brandon Drury drilled a three-run bomb to left center field in the top of the first. Matt Thaiss quickly followed with a solo blast to center, creating a four-run deficit. The Sox managed to get a tally back in their half of the first after Eloy Jiménez singled to drive in Andrew Benintendi, who had smacked a two-bagger on a sharp line drive to right field.

The bats were silent until designated hitter Andrew Vaughn launched a solo shot to right field, closing the gap to 4-2 in the bottom of the fourth.

Kopech battled tonight in his 102-pitch performance. Despite the ghastly first inning, he didn’t give up any additional runs. He ended the evening by giving up four runs on five hits, two walks, and 10 strikeouts in 4 1⁄3 innings. Gregory Santos came on in relief of Kopech and set down all five batters he faced.

To lead off the bottom of the fifth, one of last week’s offensive heroes Romy González, inched the Sox one run closer when he tattooed a round-tripper. He scalded the ball 106.1 mph off the bat, and the missile landed 423 feet away in center field. González owns the highest Hard Hit% on the team, at 48.7.

Keynan Middleton continued his dominance out of the pen, as he blanked his former teammates in the top of the seventh.

And then it was the moment we’d all been waiting for when the South Side Slydah entered the ballgame in the top of the eighth. Along with a lengthy standing ovation, the crowd started chanting, “Liam, Liam!” as cellphones throughout the stadium captured the memorable moment, and We Will Rock You blared from the speakers.

Unfortunately, the contest didn’t have the Hollywood ending that fans wished for, as Liam surrendered two runs on three hits and one walk in his first inning back. Even though I’m sure he wishes things would have been statistically different, the numbers just didn’t matter tonight. What really counts is that Liam is healthy, strong, and back on the mound.

The Sox tried to mount a comeback in the bottom of the ninth after Jiménez hammered a solo homer to left field to lead off the inning.

After Yoán Moncada grounded out, Vaughn was hit by a pitch, and Gavin Sheets walked. The rally ended there, as pinch-hitter Jake Burger popped out, and Yasmani Grandal grounded out sharply to Zach Neto, who made a great diving play to end the game.

The White Sox will be back at it tomorrow. Lucas Giolito takes the bump, as the Good Guys look to break their three-game losing streak.

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