Semien picked up his third home run during the White Sox 6-4, come-from-behind victory over the Tigers on Wednesday night at Comerica Park, and it was his third home run that gave the White Sox the lead in the seventh inning or later. The rookie infielder is the only Major League player to accomplish that feat this season.
But this long ball had an even greater impact than his solo shots at home against the Twins (eighth inning) and Indians (eighth).
With the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning and the Tigers (10-8) holding a two-run lead, Semien lofted a 3-1 fastball from Ian Krol into the left-field stands for the first grand slam of his career. Semien was sitting "dead red" in that situation.
"He missed a couple up on me and one of them I check swung," Semien said. "But that was lower and I just got extended on it."
"A 3-1 fastball, kind of just laid it in there and it was up," said Krol of the game-deciding pitch. "What every hitter's looking for 3-1, to be honest with you. Made a mistake there."
This four-run seventh began against Evan Reed (0-1) with a Paul Konerko single, marking his second of three hits on the night, giving him four in the last five at-bats and 2,302 for his career. Konerko broke Frank Thomas' franchise career total base record of 3,949 in the eighth with a double down the third-base line off of Justin Miller, giving him 3,950 overall.
After an Alexei Ramirez flyout, Alejandro De Aza broke out of a 6-for-58 slump with a single to right and Tyler Flowers coaxed a walk to load the bases. Krol retired Jordan Danks on a foul popup to third baseman Nick Castellanos, but Semien picked up Danks.
"Early on, he had some rough at-bats and he just stays with it," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Semien, who struck out in his first two at-bats. "You watch him over the course of this season and he continues to grind and fights off stuff and fights off a tough pitch and gets another one. He's a good player. He's a guy you like to see up there with guys on base."
"Reed, he's pitched extremely well for us, but nobody's going to be perfect," Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. "Today, he had a little bit of an off-day, but he'll be fine tomorrow. He'll be what we hope is back to form, the form he's been in his prior outings this year."
Andre Rienzo (1-0) earned the victory, allowing four earned runs on five hits over 6 1/3 innings during his first big league start of the season as an injury replacement for Felipe Paulino. Rienzo struck out three and walked two.
Those numbers actually were a bit deceiving in that Rienzo allowed just three baserunners total over 5 1/3 scoreless innings, but then gave up all four runs in the fourth. On consecutive pitches in that frame, J.D. Martinez singled home two and Austin Jackson knocked out a two-run homer.
"My curve worked good today, but with Jackson, I made a mistake. It was supposed to be outside, but it happens," said Rienzo, who threw 97 pitches. "But I think it worked good for the most part of the game. The curveball … It has to be more strikes. It kind of helps too because, if I throw a strike, they can't just sit on my fastball."
Jose Abreu got the White Sox going in the first with his seventh homer, a two-run shot off of Drew Smyly with Leury Garcia on base. Abreu crushed the ball to center, just as he did in the first inning Tuesday against Justin Verlander, which is a feat that is rarely seen at spacious Comerica Park let alone on back-to-back nights.
"I knew that one off the bat. Just the way it sounded," said Smyly of Abreu's blast, which made Abreu the White Sox all-time rookie leader in home runs and RBIs (21) for March/April. "I knew that one wasn't coming back. I'm surprised he hit it that far and kept it that straight. That one, you just tip your cap.
A third win in four games did not come without a little ninth-inning peril for the White Sox (11-11). Matt Lindstrom (third save) allowed a Victor Martinez single and walked Jackson in the ninth, sandwiched around long flyouts from J.D. Martinez to straightaway center and Castellanos to right. With runners on second and third, Alex Avila swung at a 3-0 sinker and lined out to Abreu to end the game.
That last bit of heroics was only possible because of another professional at-bat from one of the White Sox talented young hitters.
"Everybody is buying into catering your at-bat to the situation of the game," Konerko said. "Everybody is really doing a good job of not getting too deep mentally into it, but having an awareness of where things are at in the game, the scoreboard, what the guy is trying to do to me.
"Obviously, [White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson] is preaching that and guys are buying into it. We are going to have to do that to compete all year. If we buy into that and stay into that, we can be real tough up and down the lineup."