They said White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu would hit some home runs, but few expected him to show this much power this soon. Abreu blasted two home runs on Friday night against the Rays, including a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth. Abreu’s nine home runs breaks the record for long balls hit by rookies in the month of April. The previous record was eight, most recently set by Albert Pujols in April 2001 and previously held by Carlos Delgado and Kent Hrbek. Abreu’s 27 RBI in the month also ties a record, set by Pujols, for April runs batted in by a rookie.
Oh, and Abreu is tied for the MLB lead in home runs with Pujols at nine, and is also tied for the MLB lead in RBI with Giancarlo Stanton and Chris Colabello at 27.
Abreu got the scoring started for the White Sox in the first inning, driving an RBI single to center to put his team up 1-0 against Rays starter Chris Archer. The Rays stormed back for four runs in the top of the second inning, chasing Sox starter Erik Johnson after 1 2/3 innings.
Abreu brought the score to 4-2 in the third inning with a solo home run to straightaway center field, and the White Sox knotted things up at 4-4 when Tyler Flowers knocked in two runs with a single in the fourth.
The game remained tied at four apiece entering the top of the ninth, but Evan Longoria gave his team the lead with a two-run home run off of Matt Lindstrom to make it 6-4. In the bottom half of the ninth, the White Sox loaded the bases with one out against Rays reliever Grant Balfour when Alejandro De Aza doubled, and Tyler Flowers and Paul Konerko drew walks. However, their chances of walking off took a hit when Adam Eaton could only push across one run, grounding into a fielder’s choice at second base for the second out of the inning. The only thing that did was set up Abreu to become the hero. The White Sox needed one run to tie and two to win. With the count 0-1, Balfour threw a fastball on the outer edge of the strike zone, but Abreu drove it to right-center over the head of right fielder Wil Myers and over the fence for the walk-off grand slam, giving the White Sox the 9-6 victory.
The win pushes the White Sox to .500 at 12-12. They have hovered around .500 all season and sit two games behind the first-place Tigers in a three-way tie for second place along with the Twins and Royals.
Your Friday box scores:
Rays 6, White Sox 9
Royals 5, Orioles 0
Padres 1, Nationals 11
Angels 13, Yankees 1
Marlins 3, Mets 4
Red Sox 8, Blue Jays 1
Reds 4, Braves 5
Cubs 2, Brewers 5
Tigers 10, Twins 6
Pirates 0, Cardinals 1
Athletics 12, Astros 5
Phillies 4, Diamondbacks 5
Rangers 5, Mariners 6
Rockies 5, Dodgers 4
Indians 1, Giants 5
In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.
Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.
In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.
In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.
Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.
The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.
MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.
Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.
“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”
Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.
MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.
It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.