Burger's grand slam seals Sox sweep of Tigers
Heads up, everybody.
The White Sox -- essentially left for dead after an abysmal 7-21 start -- are seriously beginning to heat up and might just make some noise before this season ends.
Jake Burger provided the heroics Sunday, launching a walk-off grand slam over the left-center field wall at Guaranteed Rate Field to give the Sox a 6-2 victory over Detroit.
It was Burger's first career grand slam and game-ending home run -- and it came off Tigers closer Alex Lange, who was named the AL reliever of the month in May.
Burger, who now has 12 home runs and 29 RBIs in 43 games, struck out in his first three plate appearances before drawing a two-out walk in the seventh.
"I corrected some of my early at-bats in that fourth one where I got the walk by not trying to do too much," Burger said. "Going into that fifth one, he doesn't want to bounce one and let a passed ball get by. I was just kind of zoning (into) one spot and hopefully he throws it."
The Sox swept the Tigers to improve to 26-35. They are also 12-7 since May 16.
The pitching staff has been fantastic of late, and that trend continued Sunday as Michael Kopech retired the first 11 batters he faced. Kopech ended up allowing 2 runs on just 3 hits while walking one and striking out nine in 7 innings.
Now, if the Sox' bats ever heat up, watch out.
"I truly believe that at some point these guys are gonna figure this thing out together," said manager Pedro Grifol. "Like, they're gonna get hot together -- and that's gonna be nice to see. There's a lot of talent here. There's a lot of good work being done."
There were a few promising signs, with Tim Anderson, Luis Robert Jr. and Eloy Jimenez all going 2-for-4. Still, the Sox struck out 14 times, including nine against starter Matthew Boyd, who entered with a 5.96 ERA.
Liam Hendricks (1-0) threw a 1-2-3 inning for a second straight day. When he got Tyler Nevin to strike out swinging to end the ninth, the emotional Australian pumped his right fist twice while letting out a primal scream.
"He continues to tick up, he continues to get stronger (and the) work capacity get higher," Grifol said. "And this was kind of the adrenaline rush that he lives off, which is the ninth inning and he did a great job."
Some terrific defense was turned in by both center fielders in the eighth as:
• Robert tracked down Javier Baez's deep drive to keep the game tied at 2-2. Robert caught the ball on the dead run just a few feet away from the wall. If it falls, Zach McKinstry would have scored from second base.
"The amount of ground that he covered on that ball was incredible," Grifol said.
• Not to be outdone, Jake Marisnick made a leaping grab at the wall on a towering drive by Andrew Vaughn.
The Sox, just 5½ games behind first-place Minnesota, open a three-game series against the Yankees (35-25) on Tuesday before returning home to play Miami.
"When we win, we feel that energy pretty well," Kopech said. "We've kind of been up and down (with) some tough skids.
"The bottom line is everybody wants to win in there. And when we fight hard and come away with a series like we did this time, the energy is definitely moving up.
"So it's an exciting clubhouse right now. We hope to continue that trend."