Eloy Jimenez envisioned hitting home runs at Wrigley Field as he ascended the Chicago Cubs’ minor league system.
These days, the left fielder is indeed going deep at the Friendly Confines — as a member of the crosstown Chicago White Sox.
After hitting one of six home runs for the visiting White Sox during their 10-1 rout of the Cubs on Friday, Jimenez will look to help his club to its seventh straight victory Saturday night.
Jimenez, who was acquired from the Cubs’ organization in a 2017 trade, has played a key role in the White Sox’s recent surge, batting .407 (11-for-27) with four home runs and seven RBIs in the past seven games.
“I’m feeling much better at the plate, more confidence,” Jimenez said. “I’m just trying to see the ball and hit it, but I’m trying to see a pitch in the zone where I can do damage.”
Jimenez smacked his team-leading ninth home run Friday, his second career home run at Wrigley Field. The memories of his first round-tripper there are something Jimenez isn’t likely to let fade.
On June 18, 2019, he hit a go-ahead, two-run homer against Pedro Strop in the top of the ninth to lead the White Sox past the Cubs 3-1.
“It’s special,” Jimenez said. “My first game at Wrigley Field. I was dreaming of that, hit a home run here. Not against them, but after they traded me, I said, ‘Oh, yeah. I want to hit it against them.'”
Rookie center fielder Luis Robert, who also homered Friday after returning from a two-game absence caused by right hand soreness, finds motivation in Jimenez’s work ethic.
“He likes to work hard, and this is the kind of offense we’re going to be used to seeing from Eloy,” Robert said through an interpreter. “That’s the kind of player that he is, and I’m just happy he’s having this great run.”
The White Sox extended their all-time series lead against the Cubs to 63-60 with the Friday win.
Although Cubs fans ultimately wouldn’t have had much to cheer Friday night, players anticipated an eerie experience without spectators for the series against their crosstown rivals.
“You miss it,” Cubs third baseman David Bote said of the fans’ presence. “You miss the electric, you miss the feel, you miss the chants, you miss the oohs and the aahs and the silence and the beer vendors and all the things that you love to hear at a ballpark. It’s definitely something you miss.”
Right-hander Reynaldo Lopez is set to start for the White Sox in his first action since July 26, when he left with right shoulder inflammation after allowing a grad slam to the Minnesota Twins and getting only two outs. Lopez (0-1, 54.00 ERA) won his lone career start against the Cubs, lasting seven innings and yielding one run in 2018.
Looking for his third win in four August starts, Cubs righty Kyle Hendricks (3-2, 3.31 ERA) gets the call for the Cubs. Hendricks is 1-3 with a 3.55 ERA in seven career starts against the White Sox.
The White Sox expect third baseman Yoan Moncada back in the lineup Saturday after he missed the Friday game with leg soreness. Cubs counterpart Kris Bryant has missed four consecutive games because of left wrist soreness.
–Field Level Media