More than any other team in Major League Baseball, the Chicago White Sox rely on the strength and resilience of their Latino Connection.
American League rivals cringed earlier this week when four of them ganged up on a rookie pitcher, making his major-league debut, for consecutive home runs.
The rare feat was performed by three Cubans (Yoán Moncada, Yasmani Grandal, and José Abreu) and a Dominican (Eloy Jiménez) at the expense of Roel Ramirez, a Texan of Latino extraction. He made the record-book too: as the first man to throw four straight gopher balls in his first appearance.
All four sluggers are signed long-term, keeping them bound to the South Siders at least through 2023.
The fifth-inning outburst — the tenth in baseball history — made the Chisox the first American League team to do it twice. The last time they hit four in a row, their home park was called U.S. Cellular Field. Previous to that, it was Comiskey Park and then White Sox Park.
When the Sox did it last, also at home against a team from Missouri, the perpetrators were Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, Alexei Ramirez, and Juan Uribe. The date was almost exactly 12 years ago, on August 14, 2008. The losing team then was the Kansas City Royals.
Only one other team, the Washington Nationals, has ever hit four in a row twice (in 2017 and 2019) but with an entirely different cast of sluggers both times.
No club ever hit four consecutive home runs until 1961, when the Milwaukee Braves unloaded on the Cincinnati Reds. Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron, en route to the Hall of Fame, started the outburst, followed by Joe Adcock and the original Frank Thomas.
Abreu, who has spent his entire career with the Chisox, now has 183 career homers. Jimenez, in his first full season, is just getting started. Moncada came to Chicago in the deal that sent Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox, while Grandal signed with the team after hitting a career-best 28 home runs for the 2019 Milwaukee Brewers.
For Grandal, who got off to a rough start in his new uniform, the home run was his first of the season.
In fact, the entire White Sox team has had a hard time getting off the ground. Chicago went 3-8 in its first 11 home games and looked listless in losing a double-header to St. Louis at home on Saturday. But that was before the fifth inning of Sunday’s game set the pinwheels whirling on Bill Veeck’s scoreboard. The Sox won the game, 7-2, to even their season’s record at 11-11.
The winning pitcher, veteran left-hander Dallas Keuchel, also came to the Sox as a free agent, as the team hoped he would solidify a young starting staff.
“We showed what we are capable of doing,” Moncada said via a post-game Zoom call. “We’ve been working hard every day, trying to do our best. We know we have a very good team. And the ultimate goal for us is to be in the playoffs.”
With this year’s expanded format embracing 16 teams, the Sox should have a good chance to showcase their Latino stars in front of a national television audience. Their main competition in the American League Central are the Minnesota Twins, last year’s winners, and the Cleveland Indians, who used to own the division. The Detroit Tigers, despite an unexpectedly strong start, are not likely to remain serious challengers despite the arrival of several blue-chip prospects.
Teams hit four straight homers far less frequently than any individual player hits four in a game. The White Sox outburst was the tenth in baseball history but players have had four-homer games 17 times.
Long-retired J.D. Drew was the only major-leaguer involved in two instances of four straight homers, connecting with the Dodgers and Red Sox, while Cuban-born Pedro Ramos was the only pitcher. He was with the 1963 Cleveland Indians when the 8-9-1-2 hitters — the unlikeliest part of the lineup — unloaded.
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