Adam Engel’s homer adds to his strong start, gives the White Sox a second-straight win

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KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – JULY 31: Adam Engel #15 of the Chicago White Sox celebrates socially distantly with teammates in the dugout after hitting a three–run home run during the 2nd inning of the game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on July 31, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

KANSAS CITY – Whenever he’s mentioned in White Sox highlights, it’s typically for his exploits in the field.

Adam Engel has established himself as a high-quality option for Rick Renteria in center, and was even a Gold Glove finalist there in 2018. It’s his hitting that’s always been suspect, with the outfielder never hitting over .242 in a season, and had just a .235 average in that season two years ago.

Perhaps 2020 can be different for Engel in that respect as he finds his place on a much different looking White Sox team.

Engel provided all the offense the White Sox would have an all they would need on Friday night to start their series in Kansas City. His second inning three-run homer was his first long ball fo the season and gave the White Sox a 3-2 victory over the Royals.

“Everything about it is very, very good,” said manager Rick Renteria of Engel’s hitting. “I think it started last year; he’s made some nice improvements. It’s nice to see it for him, he’s a kid who’s got a lot of talent, and you’ve guys have seen him play center field in an excellent way.

“I think that putting the bat on the ball a little bit more helps him out.”

The White Sox were the beneficiaries too, considering they managed just four hits on the evening. Only one of those came in the final five innings, but Engel’s second inning homer to left off Kris Bubic would be enough on this evening.

Dallas Keuchel allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings with the bullpen holding strong after that to preserve the team’s second-straight victory.

But Engel’s homer was one of the most memorable part of the game, continuing the strong start for the player who normally makes a name for himself with his glove. That was his sixth hit in 15 plate appearances in six games that he’s played in during the 2020 season.

The outfielder said that he worked with White Sox hitting coaches in spring training to make sure he’d make the most of his at-bats in a crowded outfield for the team.

“Going into the season our plan was to settle on something that was repeatable and didn’t require a lot of movement to get rhythm and timing, and that’s been my main focus and just be able to. repeating the same move over and over again no matter how many at-bats I get a week,” said Engel. “So I give a lot of credit to our hitting coaches, really good game plan coming into this season.

“It’s definitely helping out and I’m just excited to help the team win.”

It was his exploits that overshadowed those of rookie Nick Madrigal, who made his major league debut after getting called up on Friday afternoon. He reached on an error in the seventh inning but couldn’t get his first hit in the majors on his first night.

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