On a night when most of the White Sox lineup continued to struggle, a recent callup from Charlotte produced all of its offense with one swing.
When outfielder Luis Robert went down with Covid, infielder Jake Burger was called up from Charlotte with this sort of moment in mind, a designated hitter assignment against a left-handed starter. And Burger delivered with a three-run homer on a 67-mph 0-2 pitch from 42-year-old lefty Rich Hill in the White Sox’ 3-1 win against the Red Sox Wednesday at Guaranteed Rate Field. It was one of five hits for the Sox (22-21).
“Timing was right,” manager Tony La Russa said. “Huge, huge hit.”
It traveled 444 feet, landing deep in the left field seats.
“Rich was throwing well all night,” Burger said of Hill, who did not allow a hit until Jose Abreu led off the fifth with a single, two batters ahead of Burger’s bomb. “The pitch before that was very similar, and I swung over it. Fortunately he came back with it, and I got one over the plate that was a little higher than the one previous.
“I’m fortunate to have guys like [Yasmani] Grandal, [AJ] Pollock that have played with him and against him a ton. Kind of giving me an approach in that way. It’s good having those guys in the clubhouse telling you how he’s going to attack you and come after you.”
Burger, a former first-round draft choice who missed most of three seasons with multiple injuries including two Achilles tears, made the Opening Day roster when Yoan Moncada suffered an oblique strain at the end of spring training. He was optioned to Charlotte when Moncada returned May 9. Robert went down Monday, and Burger was back.
It was his third homer of the season.
“I think from the aspect of moving your stuff around, and never really having a home base, that’s really the tough side,” he said of the shuttle between Charlotte and Chicago. “But I want to play baseball and I want to compete, no matter where I’m at.
“I hate referencing back to the three years I missed, but I was sitting on the couch for 2 1/2 of those years. I’m going to put my best foot forward, no matter where I’m at. Take every day as a blessing.”
Lucas Giolito pitched six innings of one-run ball, struggling to find rhythm and tempo, he said, and overcoming four walks. But he finished strong by retiring the last seven batters he faced.
“I’ve experienced a little bit of the up and down grind and it’s not pleasant, but [Burger] keeps proving time and time again that he’s very effective at this level,” Giolito said. “Huge home run to give us the lead there. He’s been a wonderful teammate, he works his [butt] off. I look forward to seeing him contribute more.”