Jimenez returns to lineup, powers White Sox to wild win over Twins
After he tore his hamstring while running to first base in an April 23 game against the Twins in Minnesota, the always upbeat Eloy Jimenez was down.
Down on the ground at first. Down in the dumps after that.
"When that happened, I wasn't thinking about anything," the White Sox left fielder said. "I was like completely negative."
With good reason. Jimenez missed the first four months of last season with a torn pectoral tendon.
The 2020 season was reduced to 60 games by COVID-19, and Jimenez made it through in good shape before spraining his right foot during the final week and missing most of the playoffs.
In 2019, Jimenez broke in with the Sox, stayed relatively healthy and led all American League rookies with 31 home runs and 79 RBI.
That big pop has been absent from the White Sox's lineup most of this year, and Jimenez missing over two months with the hamstring injury was painfully noticeable.
Coming off the IL Wednesday afternoon, Jimenez had the smile back and he showed the power is still there in a 9-8 10th-inning win over the Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field.
It was almost must-win territory for the White Sox, who've lost their first five games of the season against first-place Minnesota.
While coming from behind in the game five times before Leury Garcia ended it with an RBI single in the 10th inning, Jimenez hit a 2-run homer in the fourth inning and added a run-scoring single in the seventh.
"I feel really good right now," Jimenez said. "I feel really excited for all that happened right now. It was tough. It was frustrating a little bit. But now we are here and so we are going to try to do our best to go out there and win some games."
With four home games against the Tigers up next for the White Sox before they hit the road for tough divisional matchups against Cleveland and Minnesota next week, Jimenez's return time is just about perfect.
"We get Eloy back in the lineup and things like that, big things, can happen," said Lance Lynn, who started for the Sox Wednesday and gave up 5 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks in 5 innings. "Hopefully that's the start of those guys getting comfortable and doing their thing. On the pitching side, I've got to do a better job of establishing the strike zone early and throwing strikes and being better.
"Right now we're 1-0 (with Jimenez back), so hopefully it's something we can feed off of and get going and everybody can start playing some good baseball here going into the (all-star) break and definitely when we get back after the break."
In addition to Jimenez and Garcia providing offensive sparks, Andrew Vaughn came up big late in the game.
Playing first base in place of Jose Abreu, Vaughn hit a 2-run homer with two outs in the eighth inning to tie the game 8-8.
"I looked up and saw we would score, they would score, we would score, they would score," Vaughn said. "Kind of going back and forth, and it was a good baseball game. We pitched well when we needed to, we hit well when we needed to and got the win out of it."