Eloy Jiménez had a message for Chicago White Sox manager Pedro Grifol.
“He texted me when he had the surgery: ‘I’ll be back soon,’” Grifol said Sunday.
Jiménez underwent an appendectomy May 6 in Cincinnati. He returned Sunday and helped put the Sox in position to split their four-game series against the Detroit Tigers.
Jiménez was a key figure during a four-run seventh, driving in two with a double and scoring a run to give the Sox the lead.
But the Tigers tied it in the ninth and won it an inning later as Spencer Torkelson scored on a Eric Haase’s sacrifice fly to center to hand the Sox a tough 6-5 loss in front of 22,644 at Comerica Park.
The Sox couldn’t hold a late lead for the second consecutive game and lost three of four in the series.
“Tough game,” Grifol said. “We did a great job hanging in there the last two games. We felt we had the right matchups out there and we did some good things, just didn’t happen.”
For a while, it looked like Jiménez would play a big role in a win. He went 1-for-3 with two RBIs and two walks.
His original projected return was four to six weeks. He was back in a little more than three weeks.
“Every time I got hurt, I come back earlier than what people think,” Jiménez said before Sunday’s game. “I always have the mentality, every time that I say this is going to happen quick, I put the effort and I’m here.”
Jiménez made remarkable progress in a short amount of time.
“I know for a fact his mindset was coming back sooner rather than later,” Grifol said Sunday morning. “From being around guys that have that mindset going into the rehab, they seem to be able to get it done. The mind is an unbelievable thing. It doesn’t surprise me.”
Jiménez batted with the bases loaded, one out and the Sox trailing 4-1 in the seventh. He blooped a double to left and two runs scored to cut the deficit to one.
Luis Robert Jr. hit a grounder to third and Tim Anderson got a great break from third and scored ahead of the throw to the plate to tie the game.
Jiménez advanced to third on the play and scored on Andrew Vaughn’s sacrifice fly to left — complete with a headfirst slide home — to give the Sox a 5-4 lead.
The Sox took a one-run lead in the seventh Saturday only to see the Tigers rally for a 7-3 win.
Sunday, Kendall Graveman followed a strong relief effort by Keynan Middleton with a 1-2-3 eighth, needing just six pitches.
The Sox turned to Joe Kelly in the ninth.
“We talked about that early and we liked the pocket in the eighth,” Grifol said. “We liked the pocket in the ninth. Kelly’s been one of the best pitchers in baseball the last three, four weeks, if not the best. I’m certainly not going to shy away from Kelly in that situation.”
With one out, Riley Greene hit a liner to center. Robert slid to try to stop the ball, but it got past him and Greene reached third on a triple.
“I think originally he broke to catch it,” Grifol said. “He makes plays like that. That ball was sinking in hard and he tried his best to keep it in front of him and he couldn’t.”
The Sox brought in the infield and Javier Báez hit a grounder to Anderson at shortstop. He bobbled it briefly and made the play at first. Greene, going on contact, scored to tie the game.
“Those are tough plays,” Grifol said. ”It’s contact, the ball’s coming at you.”
The Tigers manufactured the winning run against Reynaldo López in the 10th as the Sox (22-33) saw a chance to gain ground on the first-place Minnesota Twins slip away and remain six games back in the American League Central.
“We’ve won games, but we still have to do a lot of the little things right,” Kelly said. “It’s baseball and you get a chance to come do it again tomorrow.”
Source: Berkshire mont