Jake Burger’s 9th-inning grand slam more than enough to lift White Sox over Tigers

The Sox’ first slam and first walk-off homer of 2023 capped an afternoon in which Burger struck out in his first three at-bats before walking in his fourth plate appearance.

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Jake Burger is mobbed by teammates after hitting a walk-off grand slam in the ninth inning Sunday against the Tigers.

Jake Burger is mobbed by teammates after hitting a walk-off grand slam in the ninth inning Sunday against the Tigers.

Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Everyone at Guaranteed Rate Field knew Jake Burger had won Sunday’s game for the White Sox when he hit a long drive to left-center.

The bases were loaded in the bottom of the ninth, there was one out and the Tigers were deploying a five-man infield. All Burger needed was a sacrifice fly to give the Sox just their second series sweep of the season.

He got much more: his first career grand slam, which capped a 6-2 Sox win before 23,372.

“Honestly, off the bat, I didn’t think it was getting out,” Burger said. “I thought it was going to be off the wall, a single. But it went out and I’m still trying to come down from it a little bit.”

The Sox’ first grand slam and first walk-off homer of 2023 also capped an afternoon that started off about as badly as possible for Burger. He struck out in his first three at-bats before walking in his fourth plate appearance.

“I think I corrected some of my early at-bats in that fourth one when I got the walk,” he said. “Not trying to do too much.”

Burger knew Lange wouldn’t want to throw anything in the dirt for a wild pitch or passed ball — especially after the Sox walked off Detroit on a wild pitch a day earlier.

So his game plan was simple: “Just kind of zone in one spot and hopefully he throws it [there], and slow yourself down.”

Like Burger, starting pitcher Michael Kopech didn’t know if the last drive had the distance.

“But Jake’s got incredible power,” Kopech said, “So the fact that it could get out was rhe cherry on the top, I guess.”

Quality start

Kopech gave the Sox a chance to win, allowing two runs on three hits over seven innings with one walk and nine strikeouts. He left with the score tied 2-2.

Spencer Torkelson’s400-foot homer to left with one on in the fourth accounted for Detroit’s scoring.

“It wasn’t my best stuff,” said Kopech, who threw 92 pitches. “But for the most part, [I] stuck to a game plan, was able to execute, was able to get ahead.”

Though his changeup wasn’t as sharp as it has been in some outings, Kopech was able to utilize both of his sliders mostly to good effect.

“There’s still work to be done,” he said. “I would still like to command them a little bit better. I made a mistake with one of them and it got taken advantage of. If I get through that a little more, that’s probably a roll-over or maybe a swing and miss.

“It wasn’t, I backed it up and it was [to] a good hitter.”

This and that

• Umpire Cory Blaser, who was hit in the facemask by Jose Cisnero’s 96 mph fastball on the game-ending wild pitch on Saturday, did not work Sunday’s game. According to MLB, Blaser remained under evaluation on Sunday. Alex MacKay took his place and was at third base.

• The last Sox player to hit a walk-off grand slam before Sunday was Jose Abreu on April 25, 2014 against the Rays.

Tim Anderson was 2-for-4 and is hitting .466 in his last 20 games against Detroit with 23 runs scored,

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