ARLINGTON, Texas — Marcus Semien slid into third base in the sixth inning Sunday and pumped his fist.
It was a rare display of emotion for the normally collected rookie infielder. But few of Semien’s hits this season have been as big as the three-run triple he delivered to deep left-center field, one that ripped open a game the White Sox went on to win 16-2. And few have come directly after the batter ahead of Semien was intentionally walked, as Jordan Danks was to load the bases with two outs.
So Semien, who set a career-high with four RBIs and matched one with a 4-for-6 game, admits he was a little excited afterward.
“It gives you a little fire when you see that happen right in front of you,” Semien said. “I know the hitting coach I had in the minor leagues said, ‘That should feel like an insult to you when they walk a guy in front of you just to get to you.’”
You could hardly fault the Texas Rangers for the strategy.
First base was open with two outs, and the left-handed hitting Danks, who homered earlier, was at-bat against righty Shawn Tolleson. After the count went 1-1, Rangers manager Ron Washington chose to intentionally walk Danks to face Semien, who was in a 1-for-11 spell.
He quickly fell behind 0-2 after fouling off two curveballs then took another curve for a ball, fouled off another and fouled off a fastball before he hammered Tolleson’s last pitch, another curve, over the head of left fielder Shin-Soo Choo for an 8-2 lead.
“To come right behind that and be able to get a hit I think is always kind of perks you up,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Sem, that was big for him.”
Semien kept going as he singled in the eighth and ninth inning, the latter driving in a run as part of a seven-run White Sox rally. Though he has shown the ability to extend plate appearances, Semien has struggled at times this season. But teammate Erik Johnson, who benefitted most from the triple as he picked up his first win, said his fellow Cal-baseball product hasn’t let his struggles bother him. Johnson figured it would only be a matter of time before Semien found his way.
“No matter what he’s going through, he comes to the field ready to play every day,” Johnson said. “We all knew it was a matter of time before he breaks open and gets his roll on again. It was good to see that for him.”