White Sox manager Tony La Russa joked that Billy Hamilton needs to slow down his home run trot.
“That’s just way too fast,” La Russa said after Saturday’s doubleheader with the Orioles.
Whether Hamilton needs to slow down, the White Sox were thrilled to see him rounding the bases Saturday.
Hamilton jump-started the Sox in Game 2 of Saturday’s doubleheader with Baltimore. His solo home run to the left field bleachers got them on the board in the fourth inning of an eventual 3-1 win.
To say Hamilton’s home run was unexpected would be an understatement. The fleet-footed outfielder entered the day with no home runs all season and just 22 since debuting in 2013.
Coincidentally, his last long ball came against the White Sox as a member of the Cubs, back on Sept. 27, 2020.
So, when Hamilton went deep Saturday, it more than got his team’s attention.
“I've actually never seen the dugout more excited, to be honest with you,” starter Lance Lynn said. “Everybody was pretty jacked.”
Added La Russa: “I'm sure there's some footage of that dugout. I’d like to get a copy of that.”
Dealing with tough shadows at Guaranteed Rate Field when he stepped to the plate, Hamilton said he was merely trying to get on base.
Even after pulling his hands in on a John Means fastball, he wasn’t sure if he got enough of it, nor did he care to wait and see.
“I don’t hit home runs,” he said. “There’s no way I knew that ball was out. My main goal was to get to third base however I could do that. If it dropped, I was going to be on third.”
Just like his home run didn’t drop, Hamilton made sure Maikel Franco’s bases loaded line drive didn’t. He left his feet to snare Franco’s liner, a huge play to temporarily keep Baltimore off the board in the sixth inning.
Had that ball dropped, Baltimore would have cut the Sox lead to 3-1, if not 3-2. The Orioles wound up scoring once in the inning after the catch.
Hamilton said he couldn’t really see the ball at first, but it hung up long enough to grab.
“Not that it looked great,” he said of his form. “It’s all about catching the ball, not how good it looks.”
Hamilton’s strong contributions had fans chanting “Billy,” and he felt the love from the South Side crowd and his teammates.
“They pumped me up so much,” he said. “It’s great being a part of this team. Much love over here.”