Chicago White Sox center fielder Billy Hamilton isn’t known for his power.
But Hamilton ignited the Sox offense Saturday with a solo home run in off Baltimore Orioles starter John Means in Game 2 of a doubleheader at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“I’ve actually never seen the dugout more excited,” Sox starter Lance Lynn said.
José Abreu also homered, helping the Sox complete a sweep with a 3-1 win in front of 20,029. The Sox won the first seven-inning game 7-4 behind homers from Jake Lamb and Yoán Moncada.
They have won five of six while the Orioles have lost 12 straight.
Hamilton’s fourth-inning home run with two outs in Game 2 broke a scoreless tie. It was his first home run of the season and 23rd of his nine-year major-league career.
“The shadows were really tough,” Hamilton said. “I told (hitting coach) Frankie (Menechino) I got in my two-strike approach, I just wanted to put the ball in play and not even try to hit a home run. It just happened to be one of those pitches that I put my hands in and I was able to get to it easier than if I was in my regular stance. It was a good pitch, and I ended up getting a good swing on it.”
The bench erupted in celebration.
“The home run, I looked around and the faces (in the dugout) were ecstatic,” La Russa said. “He’s going to have to slow his home run trot down. That’s just way too fast.”
Hamilton said of the 364-foot blast: “I don’t hit home runs. I told Tony, listen, if that ball drops, I’m going to at least be on third for sure. ... There’s no way I knew that ball was out. My main goal was to get to third base. Can’t slow it down when you don’t know it’s gone.”
And of the reaction in the dugout, he added, “These guys are awesome. These guys were so pumped up for me.”
The crowd chanted “Billy” when he returned to the field for the fifth.
Abreu hit a two-run home run off Means in the bottom of the fifth to extend the lead to 3-0.
Means, who no-hit the Mariners on May 5 in Seattle, allowed three runs on five hits with four strikeouts and two walks in five innings. Lynn was fantastic, allowing three hits and striking out seven in five scoreless, throwing 82 pitches.
Lynn finished his day on a strong note, striking out Cedric Mullins with runners on second and third and two outs in the fifth.
“He was really charging, attacking,” La Russa said of Lynn. “One of the reasons, he was trying to get deeper and save pitches because we’re going to bring him back, if he feels fine, we’re going to bring him back on short rest (Wednesday) in Cleveland. He just came after them and competed like he always does. He was trying to be aggressive.”
Codi Heuer replaced Aaron Bummer with the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth and limited the Orioles to one run in part because of a nice catch by Hamilton on a sinking liner.
Liam Hendriks struck out the side in the seventh for his 12th save.
Hendriks also picked up the save in Game 1, which featured a four-run third inning for the Sox.
Lamb struck out to complete a 10-pitch at-bat in the first inning against Orioles starter Matt Harvey. The next time up in the third, Lamb hit a two-run homer to give the Sox a 5-1 lead.
“They were pounding me in that first at-bat, and he ended up striking me out away from a really well-located heater,” Lamb said. “That heater I struck out on (in the first inning) started middle-middle and took off to being a really good pitch low and away. Going into that second at-bat, I had my sights on where I wanted the heater to start and went from there.”
Moncada hit a two-run homer against reliever Shawn Armstrong in the sixth to give the Sox a 7-4 lead. It was his first home run since April 29. Tim Anderson doubled, walked and scored twice in the opener. Abreu had three hits and three RBIs.
Sox starter Dallas Keuchel (4-1) allowed four runs on eight hits with two strikeouts and one walk in five innings. Freddy Galvis hit two solo home runs for the Orioles. Keuchel surrendered three solo home runs.
“Two of them were really bad pitches, so they just put some good swings on them,” Keuchel said. “You never know with the wind here, but two out of the three were really really bad pitches, so that’s what I just chalk it up to inconsistency. ...
“I’m putting these guys in position to really take advantage of either mistakes and or hitter’s counts. Most of the time I’ve gotten away with a lot of misses, but today I was hurt by the long ball. Thankfully we scored seven runs and we got a win, but I didn’t put us in a very good spot one bit.”
Hendriks struck out two on the way to the save in Game 1. He did one better in the strikeout department in Game 2, fanning the side.
According to Elias, Hendriks became the first Sox to convert saves in both games of a doubleheader since Bobby Jenks on Sept. 4, 2010, against the Red Sox in Boston.
“Having (Hendriks) and the deepness of our bullpen in front of him gives us a real chance to stay in contention and really be serious about October,” La Russa said.