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Palka dots first hit, first homer in Game 1 win

Fulmer escapes jam in 1st, cruises through 7 scoreless innings
Special to MLB.com

KANSAS CITY -- After grinding away for five-plus years in the Minor Leagues, White Sox outfielder Daniel Palka had the day of his Major League dreams.

In Game 1 of a split doubleheader at Kauffman Stadium, Palka picked up his first Major League hit and finished 4-for-5 with a three-run homer and a double as the White Sox cruised to an 8-0 victory over the Royals. Palka, who was claimed off waivers from the Minnesota organization last November, made his MLB debut last Wednesday. Getting a start in right field against rookie starter Trevor Oaks, Palka singled in the second inning for his long-awaited first MLB hit.

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KANSAS CITY -- After grinding away for five-plus years in the Minor Leagues, White Sox outfielder Daniel Palka had the day of his Major League dreams.

In Game 1 of a split doubleheader at Kauffman Stadium, Palka picked up his first Major League hit and finished 4-for-5 with a three-run homer and a double as the White Sox cruised to an 8-0 victory over the Royals. Palka, who was claimed off waivers from the Minnesota organization last November, made his MLB debut last Wednesday. Getting a start in right field against rookie starter Trevor Oaks, Palka singled in the second inning for his long-awaited first MLB hit.

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But Palka was just getting started. He added a single and a double before coming up in the seventh in a bizarre scenario. Chicago led 5-0 at that point and acting manager Joe McEwing sent right-handed-hitting Trayce Thompson to the on-deck circle as an apparent pinch-hitter for Palka with lefty Eric Stout on the mound. Royals manager Ned Yost came out and immediately called on right-hander Burch Smith to come in. But Thompson had not yet been announced as a pinch-hitter and so McEwing pulled back Thompson and let the lefty-swinging Palka hit against the right-hander.

Palka took advantage of that extra opportunity by blasting a three-run homer off Smith on a drive to right-center that traveled 427 feet, according to Statcast™.

"Upstairs, they didn't announce Trayce's name," Palka said. "So, when they brought in another [right-handed] pitcher, they told me to come back out. That worked out pretty good. It's a pretty funny story."

White Sox starter Carson Fulmer also enjoyed an exhilarating Game 1.

Fulmer survived a shaky first inning and wound up pitching seven scoreless innings while allowing just four hits.

Video: CWS@KC: Fulmer dominates Royals over 7 innings

"It feels great," Fulmer said. "As long as I can go deep into the game and save our bullpen and we win, that's the most important thing."

For Palka, a 4-for-5 day in the Major Leagues makes all the hard work and all the bus rides in the Minor Leagues seem worthwhile.

"Every day up here is special," Palka said. "Every day."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
The moment of truth for Fulmer came in the first inning after two walks and a single loaded the bases with two outs. In a scoreless game, Jon Jay made a bid for a grand slam, but his drive to right came up just short of the wall, allowing Fulmer to breathe a huge sigh of relief.

"It was a cutter in and [Jay] put a good swing on it and barreled it up about as good as he could," Fulmer said. " Luckily, the wind was blowing in. It's a big moment there where I could take a deep breath [after the first] and settle in."

Video: CWS@KC: Fulmer works out of bases-loaded jam in 1st

SOUND SMART
Matt Davidson, who hit seven homers in his first four games at Kauffman Stadium this year, did not go deep in Game 1 Saturday. But he had a three-hit game for the fifth time in his career.

UP NEXT
Right-hander Dylan Covey is being summoned from Triple-A Charlotte to start the second game of the split doubleheader at 7:15 p.m. CT. Covey took his lumps with the White Sox last year, going 0-7 with a 7.71 earned run average. But Covey was off to a good start at Triple-A this season, compiling a 2-1 record and 2.95 earned run average in four games with the Knights. Covey will be matched against Royals' lefty Eric Skoglund, who is 0-2 with an 8.59 ERA.

Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com and is based in Kansas City.

Chicago White Sox, Daniel Palka