HOUSTON -- It would take a lot to overshadow the excitement of a team turning a triple play, one of the rarest occurrences in baseball.
It's fair to say no one in a White Sox uniform will take issue with Charlie Tilson single-handedly stealing the spotlight, considering how impactful his one swing of the bat was in the Sox 9-4 win over the Astros Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park.
Tilson's first career home run was timely, and it was a doozy -- a grand slam off one of the hardest-throwing relievers in baseball, turning an uncomfortable one-run lead into a five-run cushion.
“It was a long time coming,” Tilson said. “I couldn't have asked for a better moment to do it and help our team win. It means everything.”
The White Sox, as a team, also made history, becoming just the fourth club in the last 40 years to hit a grand slam and turn a triple play in the same game. The others: the Tigers, in 2017; the Mets in 2002; and the Blue Jays in 1979.
Tilson, the Sox No. 8 hitter, was the star contributor of a six-run sixth inning that knocked Houston co-ace Gerrit Cole out of the game and exposed reliever Josh James' control issues, even with a fastball that routinely hits 100 mph.
James' first offering to Tilson was a 99 mph four-seamer, which Tilson took for a ball. He turned on the next four-seamer, clocked at 97.9 mph, and sent it 404 feet to right field, breaking the game open.
“They'd been throwing me a lot of fastballs all series,” Tilson said. “The last couple nights, they've been successful. I thought this at-bat would be no different. It was a big moment in the game. I just wanted to be ready for it -- I didn't want to be late. Fortunately, I put a good swing on it.”
The ball left the park in a hurry, traveling at 102 mph off the bat, according to Statcast.
“[The] pitch [was] down and in, and I definitely felt like I barreled it,” Tilson said. “As soon as I saw the trajectory, I knew that I had a good chance of rounding the bases. Pure excitement for me.”
Tilson, who has the home run ball and plans to give it to his parents, is the eighth player in White Sox history to hit a grand slam for his first career homer. The last was Danny Richar, on Aug. 17, 2007.
Jimenez hits two
Eloy Jiménez had a tough task this week in Houston. His first games back after a long layoff on the injured list with an ankle sprain were against the Astros, who employ one of the best rotations in baseball.
It wasn’t exactly an ideal way to ease back into the swing of things, and the first two games of the series in Houston were challenging.
Things turned on Wednesday. Jimenez hit two home runs, a solo homer off Cole in the second inning, and a solo shot off Brady Rodgers in the eighth.
It was Jimenez’s second multi-homer game this season.
“It's better to have two homers,” Jimenez said, smiling. “The first one [off Cole], I liked more, because it was my first hit in the series.”