Home News Zach Remillard has historic MLB debut with tying, winning hits for White Sox

Zach Remillard has historic MLB debut with tying, winning hits for White Sox

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SEATTLE — Zach Remillard, making his Major League debut after almost eight years in the Minors, called it a dream come true. Manager Pedro Grifol said it ranked at the very top of the team’s victories in 2023. The floor of the visiting clubhouse at T-Mobile Park was littered with something that looked like silly string, and there were reports of a clothing prank and festive beverages having been poured on happy players.

The White Sox had just beaten the Mariners in 11 innings, 4-3, on Saturday afternoon, and there was so much buzz percolating amongst the Chicago players that you might have thought they were in the heat of a pennant race, not 31-41 in the middle of June.

But if it’s the start of something that will get the White Sox into meaningful games in late September, well, they’ll certainly take it.

“Overall, it was the best win of the year for us,” Grifol said. “I can’t say enough about our guys and the effort they’re giving us every single day and the type of games we’re playing. Every pitch is leveraged, every at-bat is leveraged. It’s crazy the effort these guys are giving us every single day.”

Prior to Saturday, it’s hard to imagine that Grifol would start the congratulations of individual players for the winning effort with Remillard. The infielder was called up Thursday after eight years in the Minor Leagues and, until the fourth inning Saturday, had not yet appeared in a big league game. Then shortstop Tim Anderson exited with right shoulder soreness (he’s day to day). 

After the White Sox played some defensive checkers, slotting in Remillard at second base and Elvis Andrus sliding over to shortstop, Remillard went all-out. With a handful of family members in attendance, the infielder reached base in all four of his plate appearances, drawing a walk in his first MLB plate appearance before going 3-for-3. He cracked a bunt single for his first big league hit in the seventh inning, then hit a game-tying RBI single in the ninth and a game-winning RBI single in the top of the 11th.

Remillard became the first player in the Modern Era (since 1901) to have both a game-tying and a go-ahead hit in the ninth inning or later of his Major League debut.

“I don’t think you can fully put into words where this journey started 27 years ago, playing baseball, and what your dream is — is exactly what happened today,” said Remillard, who was selected by the White Sox in the 10th round of the 2016 MLB Draft out of Coastal Carolina University. “The amount of gratitude I have and how exciting it is to have my family here … it’s a moment I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.”

The pregame chatter in Grifol’s office on Saturday had centered around a major change in the batting order. Anderson, who had been the team’s leadoff hitter in every start since the end of the 2019 season, was being moved to the two-hole with left fielder Andrew Benintendi taking over leadoff duties.

Grifol’s hope was that Benintendi would get on base, Anderson’s ability to hit the ball to right field would lead to more traffic on the basepaths, and the solo home runs that the White Sox have been hitting lately would become two- and three-run shots, leading to more wins.

Benintendi responded with an otherworldly game atop the lineup, going 4-for-5 and reaching base in all six of his plate appearances (he reached on an error in the first inning). Remillard, once in the lineup, did his thing. They were both in the middle of all the action.

Chicago’s beleaguered bullpen took the reins to get the job done with six scoreless innings after a gutty five-inning, 105-pitch battle from starter Lucas Giolito.

Gregory Santos (two perfect innings with two strikeouts), Keynan Middleton (1 2/3 innings and two K’s), Aaron Bummer (1 1/3 innings with three strikeouts) and Jesse Scholtens (one inning and a K for his first Major League save) tag-teamed so brilliantly that Giolito was surprised to see the postgame scrum approaching him in the locker room afterward.

“I don’t even know why you guys [are] interviewing me,” Giolito said. “It was all the bullpen.”

Grifol agreed, saying the group of relievers is the most resilient and hard-working he’s ever been around — and he was a catching instructor for the Kansas City Royals when that team’s formidable bullpen helped lead them to World Series appearances (and an eventual championship) in 2014 and ‘15.

“I met with [the bullpen] yesterday and I told them — I said, ‘I have never been around a group of guys like that,’” Grifol said. “These guys are not only picking up innings, they’re picking up leveraged innings. We don’t play non-leveraged games.

“I’m proud of them. I’m impressed by them. They’re just part of something special.”

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