Jimenez homer vaults Sox past Cubs 3-1
The Chicago Cubs said all the right things about Eloy Jimenez on Tuesday, and for a while, it looked like his debut at Wrigley Field would be quiet one.
Jimenez, after all, was the Cubs' minor-league player of the year in 2016, and he was one of their core young prospects.
But general manager Jed Hoyer and team president Theo Epstein traded Jimenez away to the White Sox in 2017 in a deal that brought pitcher Jose Quintana from the South Side to the North Side. The idea was to make a push to win back-to-back World Series titles by fortifying the starting rotation.
The Cubs have not gotten back to the World Series, and Tuesday night, they watched Jimenez beat them with a 2-run broken-bat homer in the top of the ninth inning, giving the Sox a 3-1 victory and delighting the Sox fans in the crowd of 41,192. The homer came off Pedro Strop.
Things may change over time, but the Cubs aren't living this one down for now.
"I'm happy for him that he's up in the big leagues now," Hoyer said before the game. "He started out a little bit slow and he's come on recently. He's going to be a really good hitter. When you're in a winning cycle, you're going to make trades that net other teams good big-leaguers. I don't think this is any different. It happens to be in the same city. You look around baseball, there are a bunch of guys who were in our farm system that are having success elsewhere. And you've got to be happy for them."
Hoyer said that's part of winning.
"There's no way to have a good farm system and be in a winning cycle and not have that," he said. "The White Sox will have that soon enough. They're going to have winning moments where they have to trade out of their farm system and go for it. They're going to watch guys flourish elsewhere. As long as you're winning and filling the stadium, that's the most important thing."
Cubs manager Joe Maddon paid respect to Jimenez after the game, but he has his own problems other than the one who got away.
"He's a nice player, man," said Maddon, whose team fell to 39-33. "A bat breaks, and it goes that far. He's good, but we've got to score more than 1 run. That's the tale of the tape tonight. They got us late, but we've just got to do a better job offensively."
The Cubs' lone run came when Kyle Schwarber hit the first pitch in the bottom of the first inning off Ivan Nova for his 16th home run of the season.
"Things are going to turn, there's no doubt," Schwarber said. "We'll be fine."
Cole Hamels had another solid start for the Cubs, working 7 innings and giving up 1 run. His third-inning strikeout of Nova was the 2,500th of his career, He became the 38th pitcher overall and the 10th lefty to reach that mark. The crowd gave him a nice hand.
"It's a special moment," he said. "To be able to do it, especially here, the Wrigley faithful and Cubs fans know baseball."