Batting with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth inning of a tie game against the Detroit Tigers, Jake Burger just wanted to find a way to get a run home.
He did — and more — hitting a game-ending grand slam to give the Chicago White Sox a 6-2 victory in front of 23,327 on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“Honestly, off the bat I didn’t think it was getting out,” Burger said. “I thought it was going to be off the wall, a single. But it went out and I’m still trying to come down from it a little bit.
“First grand slam and first walk-off home run. Really exciting.”
With the slam, the Sox completed a three-game sweep. Winners of four of five, they are 5½ games behind the first-place Minnesota Twins in the American League Central despite being nine games under .500 (26-35).
“We needed that sweep,” Burger said. “We’ve got to keep getting results and putting it together.”
Pitching led the way, as it did throughout the series.
Starter Michael Kopech allowed two runs — on a homer to Spencer Torkelson in the fourth — on three hits with nine strikeouts and one walk in seven innings.
“It wasn’t my best stuff,” Kopech said, “but for the most part stuck to a game plan, was able to execute, was able to get ahead. Used both of my sliders today. For the most part everything was working pretty well.”
Joe Kelly pitched a scoreless eighth and Liam Hendriks struck out two in a perfect ninth to collect his first win of the season.
“It’s been an emotional week,” said Hendriks, who was reinstated from the injured list Monday after his battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. “That’s my first time going back-to-back (games) up here. The stuff ticked up as well, which is nice. It’s one of those scripts. My wife (Kristi) texted me, ‘You get your first win on National Cancer Survivors Day,’ and that’s one thing that’s pretty special.
“As soon as you get diagnosed, you are considered a survivor. You’ve lived through this. Hopefully I can continue moving forward and doing the right thing on the field and give some people some hope to continue fighting.”
Burger was happy to play a role in helping Hendriks gain the win.
“That was incredible,” he said. “We’re really happy to have him back. It’s awesome we can get him that win. It’s awesome seeing him back out there, and every outing he’s getting better and better.”
Eloy Jiménez drove in a run with a single in the fourth, and the Sox tied the game in the sixth with a two-out RBI single by Yasmani Grandal.
Tigers closer Alex Lange, the AL Reliever of the Month in May, had struck out four while allowing one hit in two innings during two previous outings against the Sox this season.
He was called on for the ninth Sunday, and the Sox displayed patience at the plate.
Andrew Benintendi led off with a single, and Yoán Moncada and Tim Anderson drew one-out walks to load the bases for Burger.
“Walks are really important, on-base percentage is really important,” Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. “All that stuff creates havoc. It forces pitchers to make tough pitches in tough situations. We drew those two walks and we get in a couple of good counts, now you have to throw pitches over the plate.
“This lineup that we’ve got, if we control the strike zone and we get good pitches to hit, we’re capable of doing a lot of damage.”
That’s what Burger did, and his line drive just cleared the left-center-field wall for the Sox’s first walk-off grand slam since José Abreu hit one on April 25, 2014, against the Tampa Bay Rays.
“That was incredible,” Burger said. “Glad I got a fifth at-bat there. I had three bad ones to start the game (striking out each time), worked a walk the fourth and got the fifth one. I corrected some of my early at-bats in that fourth one when I got the walk, not trying to do too much.
“Going into that fifth one, he doesn’t want to bounce one or let a passed ball get by. Just kind of zone in one spot and hopefully he throws it and slow yourself down. … This one feels good.”
Source: Berkshire mont