KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Eloy Jiménez logged his first big hit of the season, launching a go-ahead, three-run homer in the eighth inning that sent the Chicago White Sox over the Kansas City Royals 5-3 Tuesday night.
The 24-year-old slugger, who was the 2019 AL Rookie of the Year and then kept up his power surge during the pandemic-shortened season, tore a pectoral muscle in spring training. He hadn’t played in the majors until going 0 for 4 Monday night.
But Jiménez quickly made up for lost time in his second game. After hitting a single in his first at-bat, he came up in the eighth after a two-out intentional walk to Jose Abreu with Chicago trailing 3-2.
Jiménez connected for a 459-foot drive to left-center off Kyle Zimmer (4-1) to cap a four-run rally.
“I was thinking they were going to walk Jose because they didn’t think I was ready,” Jiménez said. “But I was ready for that.”
Jiménez, known more for his bat than mitt, started in left field.
“First of all, Eloy was the defensive star of the game,” Chicago manager Tony La Russa said. “That was Gold Glove stuff out there. But if I’m (Royals manager) Mike (Matheny), I make the same move. (Eloy) hadn’t taken serious at bats in four or five months.
“But that’s a legitimate home run,” he said.
The White Sox increased their AL Central lead to 9 1/2 games. They’ve been winning all season despite a lack of power — they began the game next-to-last in the AL with 106 homers, three more than the Royals.
Yoán Moncada had an RBI grounder in the eighth that got Chicago within 3-2.
The loss snapped a six-game winning streak for Kansas City.
Reynaldo Lopez (1-0) picked up the win in relief. Liam Hendriks earned his 25th save.
The Royals wasted a stellar effort by Brad Keller, who allowed one run on four hits over seven innings. He pitched on his birthday for the first time in his professional career as he turned 26.
“It’s baseball,” Keller said of the bullpen’s failure. “It’s just how the game rolls. Our bullpen has been nails all year. It’s going to happen. It’s a tough loss; no one wants to see that. Those guys have been nasty all season.”
It was Keller’s fourth straight quality start after throwing only three in his first 17 starts.
Chicago starter Dylan Cease also had a quality start, giving up two earned runs and six hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out six.
White Sox right fielder Andrew Vaughn dropped a line drive, helping the Royals score twice in the second.
Gavin Sheets hit solo homer in the fourth, giving the White Sox rookie six home runs in 63 major league at-bats.
White Sox: OF Luis Robert was transferred from High-A Winston-Salem to Triple-A Charlotte in his injury rehab assignment. Robert is coming off a right hip flexor strain, a complete tear that has left him sidelined since early May.
The White Sox send RHP Lucas Giolito (8-7, 3.78 ERA) to the mound. He is 1-1 with a (six earned runs in 11 innings) against Kansas City in 2021. For his career, he is 8-3 with a 3.12 ERA in 15 starts.
The Royals will counter with LHP Kris Bubic (3-4, 4.72 ERA). Bubic has been much better out of the bullpen this season. Prior to his last start, Bubic owned a 6.34 ERA (27 earned runs in 38 1/3 innings) in his eight previous starts, and a 2.96 ERA (eight earned runs in 24 1/3 innings) in eight relief appearances. But in his last start, July 23 against Detroit, he allowed one run on six hits in six innings.
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