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Eloy homers, predicts 'better' second half

Rookie homers as White Sox split Crosstown Classic heading into break
@scottmerkin
July 7, 2019

CHICAGO -- Eloy Jiménez has hit two home runs in four games against the Cubs, his original team that traded the power-packed left fielder and one of the game’s top prospects at the time to the White Sox as part of the José Quintana deal in 2017. Both of those

CHICAGO -- Eloy Jiménez has hit two home runs in four games against the Cubs, his original team that traded the power-packed left fielder and one of the game’s top prospects at the time to the White Sox as part of the José Quintana deal in 2017.

Both of those Jimenez long balls have led directly to White Sox victories.

Jimenez went deep in the fourth inning against Kyle Hendricks, with his two-run shot to center propelling the White Sox to a 3-1 win on Sunday before a sellout crowd of 38,554 at Guaranteed Rate Field. His home run came four pitches after just pulling a potential homer foul down the left-field line.

Box score

“I thought I got it. But at the last turn, it was foul,” Jimenez said. “I just tried to stay through the middle [on the home run]. I didn’t try to do too much because I know he doesn’t have the velocity to pass me with a fastball. That’s why I stayed through the middle. Just try to hit a line drive, and I hit it out.”

The victory salvaged a split for the South Siders in this two-game, first-half-closing Crosstown Classic. Each team won twice in head-to-head competition during the 2019 campaign, with the White Sox holding an all-time edge of 62-60.

The White Sox performances alongside Jimenez proved once again this team can stay with a division leader such as the Cubs in Year 3 of a rebuild and also proved this young group really is coming together.

Yoán Moncada extended his hitting streak to a career-high 13 games, the longest active streak in the Majors. He also made a couple of slick defensive plays at third to quickly stave off potential Cubs rallies.

Left-handed reliever Aaron Bummer allowed a Robel Garcia homer over two innings, recording his 10th hold of the season and dropping his ERA to 1.89.

And then there’s José Abreu, the elder statesman of the group. His solo blast to right off of reliever Brad Brach gave him 21 home runs and 66 RBIs at the break.

“Some of these guys that have been within the organization, both pitching and in the field, continue to improve, take advantage of the experiences they've been gaining,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “Today was an example of those things showing up, and it was a nice team victory.”

Added All-Star catcher James McCann: “Push and keep fighting. People have counted us out from Day 1, and here we sit. We've kind of opened a few eyes, and it's time to open a few more eyes as the season goes along.”

Ivan Nova shut down the Cubs for the second time this season, and in the process, snapped a seven-start winless streak and recorded his first home victory of 2019. Nova has allowed one run in 10 2/3 innings against the Cubs and 61 earned runs over 89 1/3 frames against everyone else this season.

But it was Jimenez’s drive setting the tone early, with an exit velocity of 108.7 mph and traveling 438 feet, per Statcast. It followed Jon Jay’s leadoff single and left Jimenez with 16 homers and 38 RBIs as the first half-season of what promises to be a very successful Major League career comes to a close.

“Just be me. Keep grinding. Keep swinging at my pitches and just keep playing hard,” Jimenez said. “It’s way different here. With the fans and all the stuff, you need to be ready every single day. In the Minors, it’s good. You need to be ready, but not like here.

“As a team, we’ve been pretty good. Nobody expected we are going to be where we are at now. But we have been playing really good. For me, it’s been good, but it’s going to be better.”

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.