NEW YORK — It took awhile, but Eloy Jimenez’s first major-league home runs were no-doubt-about-it blasts that were well worth the wait.
On the historic stage that is Yankee Stadium, no less, the White Sox’ prized rookie got his first one when he lined a 2-1 fastball from Yankees right-hander Jonathan Holder over the center-field wall, the ball traveling 425 feet to break a 5-5 tie in the fifth inning of a rain-shortened 9-6 White Sox victory Friday. Two innings later, Jimenez went even deeper to left-center, launching a 446-foot drive on another fastball, this one from righty Chad Green.
Jimenez, who also singled in the first inning against lefty J.A. Happ, had 13 hits — 12 of them singles — before finally going deep in his 12th major-league game.
“It feels good to get the first one out of the way,” Jimenez said. “Many to come.”
Jimenez became the first visiting player to hit his first two homers at Yankee Stadium since Manny Ramirez, who did it at the old ballpark in 1993.
“I wasn’t thinking anything like that,” Jimenez said. “I was just thinking, ‘Win the game.’ We did it.”
And they needed it in a bad way, the win breaking an unsightly five-game skid for the Sox (4-8). With his kind of special power, it seemed only like a matter of time before Jimenez would show it off.
“We’ve been waiting for that,” Sox starting pitcher Lucas Giolito said. “He has ridiculous power.”
In the Sox’ previous game Wednesday at Guaranteed Rate Field, Jimenez finally got his first extra-base hit, a double against Rays lefty Jalen Beeks.
Both home-run balls were easily retrieved by Yankees personnel because neither landed among fans in the seats.
“I’m going to put them in my room and look at them every day,” Jimenez said, smiling.
Giolito (2-1) had his second consecutive shaky start, putting the team in a 4-1 hole after two innings. But Yonder Alonso’s two-run homer against Happ in the four-run fifth tied it, and two batters later, Jimenez broke the tie.
After Jimenez’s second blast, James McCann punched an opposite-field homer to put the Sox in front 9-6. That’s when the umpires suspended play because of rain that fell for most of the game. After a 49-minute delay, the game was called and made official.
“Those were the worst conditions I’ve ever pitched in,” Giolito said. “It’s been a dream to pitch in Yankee Stadium since I was a little kid. I didn’t envision it in pouring rain. But the offense exploded and picked me up. A great team win.”
Giolito allowed six runs — two unearned because of shortstop Tim Anderson’s third error — six hits and four walks. He gave up a homer to Brett Gardner in the fourth and allowed a walk and a single to open the sixth, ending his night. His 6.19 ERA is remarkably close to his 6.13 mark in 32 starts in 2018.
But it was Jimenez to the rescue. With expectations so high, this breakthrough should help him relax and begin to settle in.
“Believe me, I know how it is,” said Yoan Moncada, who was on base for the first homer. “I know what he’s going through after going through it last year. That’s why I’m so happy for him.”
“He’s got a lot of talent,” manager Rick Renteria said. “It was a really nice game for him. It’s nice to see it. Over time, he’ll have good days and bad days. Today was a good day.”