White Sox

Jose Abreu, White Sox offense stay hot in win over Tigers

Jose Abreu, White Sox offense stay hot in win over Tigers

Jose Abreu’s hot bat continues to ignite the White Sox offense and has the club confident in what he’s capable of once again.

The slugger had three more hits on Wednesday afternoon and his White Sox teammates did the rest with a 7-4 victory over the Detroit Tigers in front of 13,078 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Justin Morneau, Avisail Garcia, Tyler Saladino and Adam Eaton all had run-scoring hits in a four-run, eighth-inning rally as the White Sox closed out a series win over Detroit. Abreu, who raised his average to .298 and drove in his 88th run, had a game-tying sacrifice fly and later scored the game-tying run on Morneau’s one-out double in the eighth off Shane Greene.

“(Abreu) gets it started,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “If we can get some guys on, it seems he has the ability that's going to carry you. He's swinging it good, you can tell he's patient as well. That's the biggest thing, he's not swinging at everything. He's willing to talk a walk. It just changes the at-bat for the pitchers. We like it when he's swinging well.”

The White Sox offense has struggled for many reasons this season.

Though original plans called for a platoon, Adam LaRoche’s retirement and a season-ending injury for Austin Jackson resulted in a full-time role for Garcia. It also landed Jimmy Rollins, who had a .624 OPS before he was released, in the No. 2 spot in the lineup early in the season as Melky Cabrera was needed to break up the middle of the order.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Todd Frazier’s struggles with runners in scoring position has also been one of the club’s key issues. The team also expected a bigger boost from catchers Dioner Navarro and Alex Avila and didn’t receive.

And then there was Abreu, who until Aug. 9 was nowhere near the offensive force the team has come to rely upon the past two seasons. While he still produced at a league-average rate, Abreu and the White Sox had hoped for more.

Over the last month the White Sox have received the desired production from Abreu and — combined with a solid left-handed stick in Morneau — as a result, they’ve improved significantly. Abreu attributes the improvement to motivation provided by first-ever visit of his son, Dariel, and a mechanical adjustment with his hands.

Since Dariel’s Aug. 7 arrival, Abreu is hitting .379/.416/.647 with nine homers and 28 RBIs.

In the same span, the White Sox have hit .277/.329/.430 and scored 4.9 runs per game. The team has also been held to two or fewer runs seven times (25 percent) in 28 games compared with 37 times in their first 111 games (33.3 percent).

“It gives us confidence going forward not only to finish the year strong but for next year too as well, depending on what do in the offseason,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “To see the stuff he’s doing now -- he seems real relaxed, he’s focused and any pitch that comes, he either slows down nice and attacks the ball like a good hitter or a fastball he catches up with it and drives it. It’s fun to see.”

Jose Quintana thought so, too.

Despite a good effort, Quintana (four earned runs in 6 2/3 innings) was on the hook for a loss until his teammates rallied in the eighth. Abreu started the go-ahead rally with a single and motored all the way around from first to score on Morneau’s double to right center. Garcia followed Morneau with an RBI single to center to give the White Sox a 5-4 lead. Saladino and Eaton also had RBI singles to build a three-run cushion.

Abreu’s production hasn’t just renewed his teammates’ faith in his abilities. Even the front office feels a sense of relief that their slugger hasn’t morphed into a singles hitter.

“It certainly makes you more confident as you see him over the last six weeks, projecting out that he's going to be that same player that he was for the first two years of his career,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “Earlier, when he was scuffling, you looked at some of the things he was doing from his approach or some of the mechanical issues he might have been having and you felt confident he was going to be able to get back. But in all candor, you like seeing the performance match what you're projecting and we've certainly seen that over the last six weeks.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: The all-request, whatever's on your mind episode


White Sox Talk Podcast: The all-request, whatever's on your mind episode

In this special bonus episode, we opened up the podcast to our favorite people: you the White Sox fan!

You asked the questions and we answered them!

Who will be the White Sox closer in 2020? Can Avi Garcia be an effective #2 hitter? Who will be the Nicky Delmonico of 2018? Who has been the biggest surprise at spring training?  There are questions about Adam Engel, Ryan Cordell, Carson Fulmer, Yoan Moncada, as well as Roger Bossard, Mike Ditka and Rocky Biddle.

We also give away a signed Freddy Garcia baseball from 2005.   

Take a listen here or in the embedded playlist below.

White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Toronto Blue Jays?


White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Toronto Blue Jays?

As the 2018 season nears and the White Sox get ready to take on the rest of the American League, we're taking a team-by-team look at all 14 of their opponents.

What’s there to know about the Toronto Blue Jays?

They seem to have missed their window.

Living on a lighted stage approaches the unreal, they say. And it did there for the Jays for a while, too, as they made back-to-back trips to the American League Championship Series. Those teams were fun. They hit a lot of homers. They flipped a lot of bats. We all got to watch Geddy Lee keep score on national TV. Good times.

Well, the good times haven’t lasted, and the Jays again seem to be on the outside looking in of an AL East race that figures to feature the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox and no one else.

Jays fans have had to say a farewell to kings in the past two offseasons, with two of the biggest engines of those ALCS teams, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista, no longer with the team. Encarnacion is entering Year 2 with the Cleveland Indians. Jose Bautista would like to be a working man, but he’s still watching the tumbleweeds roll by on the deserted plains of this offseason’s free-agent market.

Sure, Josh Donaldson is still around, a modern-day warrior with a mean, mean stride and a mean, mean swing, too. The same can be said for Justin Smoak, who teamed with Donaldson to mash a combined 71 homers last season. But are the dipped numbers of Kevin Pillar and Ryan Goins and the increasing ages of Russell Martin, Kendrys Morales and Curtis Granderson giving anyone in the Great White North great confidence in this lineup? Even the two imports from the St. Louis Cardinals, Randal Grichuk and Aledmys Diaz, couldn’t reach base at a .300 clip last season.

The best news for the Jays might be what’s going on 60 feet, six inches away from home plate — excuse me, 18.4404 metres from home plate. Marcus Stroman might start the campaign on the disabled list, but he’s still really good after posting a 3.09 ERA last season. J.A. Happ was good last year. Marco Estrada was OK. And the Jays added Jaime Garcia this offseason, who isn’t a blockbuster newcomer, but he managed 129 strikeouts in 157 innings last season while pitching for three different teams.

Is any of that enough for the Jays to compete this season? To get closer to the heart of the AL East race? No probably not, but it’s really up to you to decide. And remember that if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

I’m out of applicable Rush lyrics, so let’s just move this along.

2017 record: 76-86, fourth place in AL East

Offseason additions: Curtis Granderson, Randal Grichuk, Aledmys Diaz, Yangervis Solarte, Jaime Garcia, Seung hwan Oh, Tyler Clippard, John Axford

Offseason departures: Jose Bautista, Miguel Montero, Darwin Barney, Dominic Leone

X-factor: The Jays had one of baseball's better closers last season in Roberto Osuna. He's had that job for a while now and has racked up 95 saves in his three big league seasons, including 36 and 39 in 2016 and 2017, respectively. His ERA was a career-high 3.38 last season, but he finished more games than any other pitcher in baseball and struck out a career-high 83 batters in 64 innings.

Projected lineup:

1. Curtis Granderson, LF
2. Devon Travis, 2B
3. Josh Donaldson, 3B
4. Justin Smoak, 1B
5. Russell Martin, C
6. Kendrys Morales, DH
7. Randal Grichuk, RF
8. Kevin Pillar, CF
9. Aledmys Diaz, SS

Projected rotation:

1. Marcus Stroman
2. J.A. Happ
3. Aaron Sanchez
4. Marco Estrada
5. Jaime Garcia

Prediction: Fourth place in AL East, no playoffs

Catch up on the AL:

Oakland Athletics
Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Angels
Houston Astros
Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays

Catch up on the NL:

San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants