Remember me? Eloy's HR sinks Cubs

June 19th, 2019

CHICAGO -- When was signed by the Cubs in 2013 as one of the game’s top international prospects, he dreamed of hitting a home run at Wrigley Field.

On Tuesday night, he did just that.

“But now I’m with the White Sox,” said Jimenez, flashing his trademark broad smile after his team claimed a 3-1 victory.

Yes, Jimenez is practicing his craft for the White Sox, coming across town as the centerpiece of a four-player return for Jose Quintana in 2017, and the organization couldn’t be happier.

With the game deadlocked at 1 in the ninth inning and James McCann on first, Jimenez connected on a 1-0 fastball from Pedro Strop and launched it into the left-field bleachers for his 12th home run.

Dream fulfilled in his North Side debut. Even movie scripts don’t work out this smoothly.

To make things even more dramatic, the bat broke as he connected. Asked if he is going to keep the bat, which was loosely taped up postgame, Jimenez smiled again and said, “Of course.”

“It was everything, like, it was a really good moment,” he said. “I just tried to hit a line drive up the middle. When I hit it over the fence, it was amazing.”

“He's a nice player, man. He's going to be very good,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I heard that was a broken bat. The bat breaks and it goes that far? I've seen a couple guys do that stuff. He's good, but we've got to score more than one run.”

Maddon’s quote points up how this was not a one-man victory for the White Sox (35-36), although it might be portrayed as such. Left-handed reliever Aaron Bummer worked out of trouble in the seventh, and Alex Colome handled the ninth for the save.

Manager Rick Renteria removed starter Ivan Nova after Kris Bryant singled to lead off the sixth, and Bummer induced fielder’s-choice grounders from Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez. Jason Heyward followed with a single to left, sending Baez to third, but Bummer struck out Victor Caratini to end the threat. Bummer cruised through the bottom of the order in the seventh.

“I've crossed a lot of things off the list that I wanted to do this season, and I think I've matured a lot,” Bummer said. “My maturity has showed by being able to go out there in a hostile environment and go do what I'm supposed to do, go out there and get ground balls and protect that game for Nova.”

Relievers Jace Fry and Evan Marshall also helped keep the Cubs' offense quiet, setting the stage for Jimenez in the ninth.

Jimenez had already had a chance for glory about five minutes into the contest, as he faced Cubs starter Cole Hamels with the bases loaded and one out in the first, but that at-bat ended with an around-the-horn double play.

But Jimenez did not miss in the ninth. He now has six homers in his last nine games, and seven of his 12 homers were go-ahead shots. A large group of White Sox fans loudly cheered as Jimenez rounded the bases, while the visitors’ dugout erupted in raucous celebration.

“I can’t explain it right now,” said Jimenez, shaking his head in near disbelief in front of a throng of reporters. “It was really good.”

“He broke his bat and he hit it to the top of the stands. That should say it all,” Marshall said. “He is incredibly athletic and he's studying the game and he's getting better and better and better, and it's going to be a lot of fun to see where he goes.”

“Just a super cool moment for us,” said Lucas Giolito, who starts on Wednesday. “It's going to take those big moments every once in a while to win a baseball game, and doing it the first game playing the Cubs this year makes it even more sweet.”