– by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief
ARLINGTON, Texas — Two days after Chicago White Sox catching prospect Zack Collins officially lived out his dream, making his Major League debut in one of the iconic venues of the sport, Wrigley Field, his first ball that he ever put into play sent him into dreamland — even if he temporarily had no idea what was actually happening.
Collins, making his first career start after a pinch-hitting appearance on Wednesday, smashed a three-run home run in the second inning for his first major league hit, the catalyst in the White Sox’s 5-4 win over the Texas Rangers in 10 innings on Friday night. The home run gave Chicago the lead after it fell into an early 2-0 hole, and Yolmer Sánchez’s safety squeeze with one out in the 10th inning drove in Eloy Jimenez with the game-winning run.
The 10th overall selection in the 2016 MLB Draft, Collins was called up earlier in the week and drew a walk in a pinch-hitting role in the ninth inning of the White Sox’s most recent game, a 7-3 defeat at the hands of the Cubs on Wednesday. He made his first ever start tonight as the designated hitter, and marked his first official at-bat with a 447-foot blast to right-centerfield off Rangers starter Ariel Jurado, following a two-out single by Tim Anderson and a Sánchez hit by pitch, to put the Pale Hose in front.
The immediate task at hand of trying to help his team come back in the game soon gave way to a near out-of-body experience once the ball sailed over the wall that turned his first hit in the big leagues into a homer.
“I was pumped, then I was just in shock,” said Collins, who hit an impressive 49 home runs in the minors before being called up. “I didn’t know whether it was a dream. I was running around the bases, it was crazy. I knew it was gone. Running around the bases, it kind of seemed like a blur to me.”
As impressive as Collins’ clout was in terms of distance, it could not hold a candle to the gargantuan blast that Rangers right fielder Nomar Mazara hit just a half inning prior, launching a 505-foot, two-run moonshot deep into the second deck of right field bleachers for a 2-0 Texas lead after one inning. Mazara’s shot was tied for the longest home run ever hit since Statcast began keeping track of those numbers starting in 2015, tying a home run that Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story hit last September.
White Sox starter Reynaldo Lopez, who came into the game with the highest ERA in baseball amongst all qualifying starters at 6.23, settled down after Mazara’s home run, eventually working 5 1/3 innings while allowing three earned runs and striking out four. Though the White Sox blew just their fourth save of the season when reliever Aaron Bummer allowed a run in the seventh to tie the game at 4-4, Chicago’s bullpen was stellar overall, allowing just two hits over 4 2/3 innings and striking out eight Rangers hitters.
Alex Colomé worked around a walk in the bottom of the 10th inning to earn his 16th save of the season.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Friday’s game, with all photos taken by Dallas-area photographer Ross James. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 27 pictures in total.