Melky Cabrera is the latest hitter to aid a surprising White Sox offense.
The veteran outfielder had two go-ahead hits on Monday afternoon, including an RBI single in the seventh inning of a 5-4 White Sox victory over the Boston Red Sox in front of 27,148 at Guaranteed Rate Field. Cabrera also blasted a three-run homer for the White Sox, who won for the fourth time in five games on the homestand.
Only three weeks ago, Cabrera boasted a .595 OPS and had one home run on his ledger. But Cabrera is hitting .407/.467/.852 with four homers and 11 RBIs in his last 30 plate appearances (seven games).
“That’s the result of all of the work I put in for my preparation,” Cabrera said through an interpreter. “I haven’t changed anything. I’ve been doing my same routine. My swing is the same. It’s just the way the ball is going out right now.
“Things are going well for us right now.”
Cabrera continued to torment opposing pitchers in the third inning when he ripped the first pitch he saw from David Price for a three-run homer to put the White Sox ahead 3-1. Cabrera then nearly broke a 3-all tie in the fifth inning with runners on the corners. But Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts made a diving stop and flipped the ball to start a fantastic, inning-ending 6-4-3 double play with runners on the corners.
But Cabrera wouldn’t be denied in the seventh.
With the White Sox down 4-3, Yolmer Sanchez led off the seventh with a triple to right. Kevan Smith tied it with an RBI double. Two outs later, Cabrera looped a Matt Barnes pitch up the middle for a single. Smith was waved home even though Red Sox second baseman Josh Rutledge tracked the ball down in shallow center. Rutledge fired home, but catcher Christian Vazquez couldn’t handle the hop and Smith slid in with the go-ahead run.
Buoyed by the performances of Avisail Garcia, Jose Abreu — whose 10-game hit streak ended Monday — and Cabrera, the White Sox offense has performed better than expected this season. Monday’s effort was the 23rd time in 50 games in which the offense has scored five or more runs. The team entered Monday seventh in the American League with 225 runs scored, an average of 4.59 per contest.
“(Cabrera’s) bat’s starting to come to life a little bit more lately,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He’s been as relaxed as he’s ever been. He’s focused. I don’t think he’s changed his routine. He has a very steady routine. I think for most veteran hitters, they know when they’re doing what they’re doing, and they know that in time things will start to come full circle and they’ll come back to where they’re at. It’s not like he’s losing bat speed or none of that. It’s just a matter of time and sync and focus, and kind of finding himself back in the zone where he’s comfortable doing what he’s doing.”
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The back end of the White Sox bullpen continues to look comfortable holding the lead. Juan Minaya struck out the side in a scoreless seventh inning for the victory. Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson each added scoreless frames to preserve the win.
White Sox relievers followed David Holmberg’s spot start (four innings, three earned runs) with one run allowed over five innings. The group entered Monday with a 2.48 ERA, second-best in the majors behind Cleveland (2.19).
“We got some good arms here,” Robertson said. “Those guys have experience. Everyone that comes up seems to step into a role, figure out and gets the job done. That's what we as a bullpen, try to be a tight-knit group, come in and protect leads and if we're not protecting a lead at least hold the game where it is and give our offense a chance to come through for a win.”