CHICAGO – While everybody else was celebrating Father’s Day on Sunday, Gordon Beckham was creating his own little Redemption Day.
Beckham slugged a home run in the bottom of the 11th inning to give the Chicago White Sox a 3-2 victory, and consecutive victories following an eight-game losing streak. It was the defensive ace turning into a much-needed offensive source for one day, anyway.
Beckham’s Chicago White Sox history is well documented. A first-round draft pick in 2008, he was never able to live up to the promise he showed in his rookie season of 2009.
He did enough that year, though, to last four more seasons with the White Sox before they traded him away to the Los Angeles Angels last August. Unfulfilled potential was narrative long before the deal even went down.
Beckham returned this winter as a free agent. Free from the rigors of starting every day, he has been making contributions, albeit sporadic and mostly with his glove.
No, this isn’t the prodigal son returning home triumphantly – not yet, anyway – but it isn’t a man crushed under the weight of past success, either, at least not as much as it had been.
Yet Beckham’s redemption Sunday wasn’t just one of a player giving a victory to a team that once projected stardom for him. There was a game inside the game as well, as Beckham also overcame a miscue Sunday that would have made him the goat rather than the hero.
Playing third base in the top of the 11th inning after entering as a defensive replacement in the 10th, Beckham elected not to field a ball hit down the line by Adam Rosales. But third-base umpire Phil Cuzzi didn’t see a foul ball the way Beckham did and it went for a leadoff double.
With one out and the bases loaded, Beckham was able to make amends. Reliever Jake Petricka induced a ground ball from Hanser Alberto right to Beckham at third base, starting an unconventional 5-2-3 double play to get out of the jam.
One pitch into the bottom of the 11th, Beckham deposited his home run off Rangers reliever Alex Claudio into the White Sox’s bullpen in left.
“The double play that he turned, this is right in his wheelhouse, coming in there and getting stuff going,” manager Robin Ventura said. “The defensive play was great, coming home and being able to double up a tough runner and get us to that spot and then he comes up and hits the homer. Good stuff all the way around.”
Beckham has been starting at third base more of late, but he still isn’t hitting with consistency, so he continues to be viewed as a late-inning replacement. Because he isn’t starting, he has tried to stay out of the limelight more than in the past.
And he has also tried to avoid the storyline of the player destined for greatness who fails to reach the stars and then returns to help the team that once believed in him. It has been hard to deny, though, and Sunday added a new twist.
When Beckham signed with White Sox, some viewed it as a troubling decision. Why go back to the place where you have so much baggage?
But Beckham saw it as a chance to use his skills in whatever way possible for a team that he thought had a chance to win. Maybe he hasn’t used those skills as much as he would have liked, and maybe the team isn’t winning as much as he figured, but Sunday was a day when it all came together.
He isn’t going to argue with days like that.
“It’s good,” Beckham said. “Obviously, defensively I feel like I’ve been playing good all year. But this team, I feel like we’re good and we have a chance to do some good things and clearly it’s a lot easier to say that after a win, but it’s just nice to win. Winning cures all and that’s what we want to do. We have a good group.”
Offensively, the White Sox still appear to be a mess. But Melky Cabrera did have a career-best five hits, and maybe the Beckham home run can provide a spark as July approaches.
“Anything helps and any win helps,” Beckham said. “If it looks ugly, if we blow somebody out, I don’t really care. I don’t think we care. I just think we need to show up every day and put in the work and try to get some wins here.”