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Winning slam a banner moment for White Sox

@scottmerkin
August 14, 2019

CHICAGO -- Once upon a time, in a land known as the south side of Chicago almost 14 years removed, White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko hit a seventh-inning grand slam off Houston reliever Chad Qualls during Game 2 of the 2005 White Sox World Series sweep at what was

CHICAGO -- Once upon a time, in a land known as the south side of Chicago almost 14 years removed, White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko hit a seventh-inning grand slam off Houston reliever Chad Qualls during Game 2 of the 2005 White Sox World Series sweep at what was then known as U.S. Cellular Field.

Comparing one of the most significant home runs in franchise history to James McCann’s eighth-inning game-winning grand slam off Houston’s Ryan Pressly during Wednesday afternoon’s 13-9 victory at Guaranteed Rate Field rates as the biggest of stretches. But in the context of the White Sox rebuild, in the context of the White Sox claiming the season series from one of the present World Series favorites, it certainly mattered.

Box score

“That was as exciting of a game for us, to be able to pull it out, as any this season,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said.

“Especially at the end of a homestand, to come out on top in a ballgame like that, our offense did a heck of a job,” McCann said. “Our pitchers shut them down when they needed to.”

Key bases-loaded scenarios became a running theme throughout this 3 1/2-hour contest. White Sox starter Ross Detwiler struck out Robinson Chirinos with three straight elevated fastballs to strand the bases loaded during a two-run third.

Reliever Aaron Bummer turned a 1-2-3 double play on a first-pitch grounder back to the mound from pinch-hitter Aledmys Diaz to end a two-run seventh. After watching Houston starter Wade Miley flip a Yolmer Sanchez bunt over Chirinos’ head during a four-run second, Bummer simply was focused on taking his time to start that play.

“I was like, ‘All right. This ball is not going over the catcher’s head,’” Bummer said. “The fact we got two out of that is huge.”

And closer Alex Colome, who earned the victory, induced a bases-loaded, inning-ending lineout to center fielder Adam Engel from Yuli Gurriel, who had two homers and three RBIs. That third out set the stage for McCann in the bottom of the frame.

Sanchez singled and Tim Anderson followed with his fourth hit of the game, this one coming with two outs against Pressly. Jose Abreu, who drove in two, battled through a seven-pitch at-bat to draw a bases-loaded walk, and McCann unloaded on an 0-2 slider hanging over the middle of the plate for his fourth career grand slam.

McCann became the first White Sox player to hit a game-winning grand slam in the eighth inning or later since Adam Eaton on Aug. 17, 2016 in the ninth inning at Cleveland.

“Going into the at-bat, I was just trying to get something up and elevated,” McCann said. “His success is no secret. He's got really good stuff and I was trying to get something up in the zone and it came on 0-2.”

“I left the pitch in the middle of the plate and he capitalized on a mistake,” Pressly said. “Tip your hat to him.”

Eloy Jiménez struggled twice on reads with fly balls to left, leading to a first-inning double for Michael Brantley and an eighth-inning double for Jake Marisnick. Both of those runners eventually scored, but he made up for those issues with two hits and three runs scored. Jimenez also became the 11th rookie in franchise history to reach 20 homers in a season, connecting off Will Harris in the seventh for a 434-foot blast to center.

“When I hit it, I said, ‘That one is gone,’” said a smiling Jimenez. “When I saw it, I said, ‘That’s way gone.’”

After being outscored 18-9 over the first five games of this 3-3 homestand, the White Sox erupted Wednesday. It’s not going to change much in regard to their 2019 standing, moving them to 54-65 as they embark on a seven-game road trip.

Taking four of seven from Houston in the season series, though, gives the White Sox confidence that they are moving in the right direction toward creating more eternal World Series memories, such as Konerko’s grand slam.

“We played them really tough and it's something to build on,” McCann said. “It's something as a team to really grow from.”

“Keep putting quality at-bats together, and I think it's going to happen,” Anderson said. “And for the pitchers, just keep pitching. Overall, good day.”

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