Tony La Russa has seen plenty of beer showers in his career. But the one waiting for White Sox right-hander Jimmy Lambert after his first major-league win caught the Hall of Fame manager’s attention.
“He just got one of the most exaggerated beer showers I've seen in a long time,” La Russa said in his postgame Zoom conference. “Ages. The win was worth it, I'm sure, but he's paying a big price right now."
In the White Sox’ 6-3 win at Oakland on Tuesday, Lambert allowed one run in five innings. With all the injuries the White Sox have sustained to their rotation in recent weeks, the win was all the more significant. The White Sox called up Lambert to fill in for Lucas Giolito (left hamstring strain).
“I’ll just say, the beer was very cold,” Lambert said.
Giolito is on the IL with right-hander Lance Lynn (right knee inflammation). The White Sox also pushed back Carlos Rodón’s next start, as he deals with shoulder fatigue and soreness.
“We look forward to getting our starters back,” La Russa said before the game Wednesday. “This series here is concerning because we're asking a lot out of Jimmy and then Dallas (Keuchel) comes back on regular rest and (Reynaldo) López.”
Because the bullpen was rested after Monday’s off day, La Russa put more of an emphasis on “a quality first inning and second inning” from Lambert.
“If he gives us 3 or 4 (innings), it would be a victory for us,” La Russa said before the game. “And if he goes deeper, fine. We really want him to concentrate on just that first inning and then second and not get too distracted.”
Lambert exceeded that bar.
The only run he allowed came in the first inning, after giving up a leadoff double and later a sacrifice fly. Then, Lambert down shut the A’s, facing the minimum in the third and fifth innings. Oakland logged just three hits off him.
"He came out in the first inning, and he was nervous, which he should be,” La Russa said. “And what's so impressive was once he got into the flow, he showed his reputation. He has a reputation for being a closer: He can finish innings, he can pitch deep into the game. And that's exactly what he did. He got, actually, sharper and better and better as he relaxed and just pitched. So, a very impressive game."
Lambert’s start Wednesday marked his sixth major-league outing and third start. It was the best of his career.
After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2019, Lambert made two relief appearances the next season, both scoreless innings, before landing on the IL again with a forearm strain.
“I didn’t know if I’d ever get the chance to win a major-league game,” he said Tuesday, “and in a lot of ways, today felt like my first start.”
In his actual first (and second) start, he was limited, throwing under four innings.
“Whereas going into today, it was kind of my game in a way,” Lambert said. “So, it felt good to throw five. It’s definitely special. “