August 02, 2006

Gload's First Career Slam Wins It For White Sox

Ross Gload may have graduated from East Hampton High School some 11 years ago, but he's still representing his hometown proudly; most recently by hitting a game-winning grand slam home run in the Chicago White Sox's 6-4 win over Baltimore on July 28.

With Chicago, whom Gload won a World Series ring with last season, trailing the Orioles 4-2 in the top of the ninth inning and All-Star first baseman Paul Konerko out of the game after bruising his left shin in the fifth inning, the stage was set for dramatics.

Gload strode to the plate with one out and the bases loaded and moments later, crushed an offering from Baltimore closer Chris Ray that soared deep into leftfield and caromed into the fourth row of seats at Camden Yards to give the White Sox a 6-4 lead. It was the first grand slam of Gload's career and his first home run of the season.

Gload, who has been limited to just 69 at-bats this season due to Chicago's talented depth at the first base position (Konerko and Jim Thome) has emerged as one of the top reserve players in the American League and his average currently stands at .290 and his slugging percentage is .406.

The blown save by Ray was only his second of the season after having converted 26 of 27 save chances before entering the game. Gload's home run was the seventh of the season allowed by Ray and during an AP interview conducted after the game, the East Hampton native said, "I was just trying to get a guy in with a sacrifice fly. It kept carrying and got out."

The White Sox are currently in a nose-to-nose battle with the New York Yankees for sole possession of the AL Wildcard lead.

"Ross, to me is truly professional," said Guillen in an AP interview. "He sits without complaining, and when you put him in, he always does something."

Gload finally got his first solid opportunity to stick with a Major League team in 2004 after previously spending most of eight seasons in the minors. He batted .406 in the month of September that year en route to being named the AL Rookie of the Month. He batted .372 over the final two-plus months of the season and finished with a .321 average, 7 home runs and 44 RBI.

Various injuries last season limited his playing time and the acquisition of future Hall-of-Fame first baseman Jim Thome during the off-season put him back on the bench although he has made the most of his opportunities to produce at the plate.

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