Jose Abreu hits first MLB homers as Sox blast Rockies 15-3
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter April 9, 2014 10:10AM
Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Jose Quintana challenges Colorado Rockies Brandon Barnes during the first inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, April 8, 2014, in Denver. (AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez) ORG XMIT: COBG104
DENVER — Tough to say which of Jose Abreu’s home runs in the White Sox’ 15-3 rout of the Colorado Rockies was most impressive — the first one, which barely cleared the left-field fence to cap a 12-pitch at-bat in the seventh inning, or the second an inning later, a 412-foot rocket to right-center field on an 0-2 pitch.
Both spoke volumes about Abreu’s ability to make contact and hit with power.
On a night when the Sox also got two homers from Avisail Garcia and erupted for six homers in a game for the first time since 2009 — while also getting a well-pitched game from starting pitcher Jose Quintana (1-0) in a hitter-friendly ballpark — Abreu managed to steal the headline.
‘‘Today was a very special day,’’ said Abreu, who was quick to mention a phone call from out of the country from his mother, Daisys, who called to offer some reassurance as he was going through an 0-for-12 rut. ‘‘She called me early in the day and said, ‘Hey, just take it easy, take it one day at a time.’ That gave me a lot of strength and confidence to go through the day. I’m very happy, and Mom should be very happy with her two home runs.’’
Abreu and Garcia had the first multi-homer games of their young careers, and Tyler Flowers and Alexei Ramirez also homered for the Sox (4-4).
Garcia and Abreu had not homered in the Sox’ first seven games. Garcia, who was 4-for-5 with three RBI, went deep against left-hander Franklin Morales in the first and against right-hander Wilson Lopez in the eighth. Both of those shots were to left field.
‘‘I’ve been watching videos, and I was trying to do too much,’’ said Garcia, who raised his average from .167 to .276. ‘‘Right now it’s better.’’
The Sox last homered six times in a game on June 24, 2009, against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Abreu and Garcia are the first Sox tandem to hit two each in a game since Juan Uribe and Paul Konerko on June 8, 2004.
Abreu homered on the 12th pitch of an at-bat against Chad Bettis in the seventh, the ball barely clearing the glove of left fielder Brandon Barnes.
‘‘That at-bat was very important to me,’’ Abreu said, speaking through a translator. ‘‘I fought for that. It was an at-bat that changed the result of the game [extending the lead from 4-2 to 7-2].’’
The bomb to right-center was ‘‘something I was not looking to do, but the ball went that way, the pitch took me that way,’’ he said. ‘‘That is something I’ll have to do. They will be pitching me in different places, so I’ll have to be able to hit the ball to all parts of the field.’’
Abreu drove in five runs, hiking his RBI total to 11. The first home run ball likely will go to his mom.
‘‘He’s more than a slugger,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. ‘‘He’s proven that to us since spring training. His approach is a little more mental the other way. He can pull it. He hits it a long way if he gets a hold of it. It’s not just going up there, swinging as hard as you can. He’s just a good hitter.’’
The Sox banged out 20 hits. The 1-2 batters at the top of their lineup, Adam Eaton and Marcus Semien, each reached base five times. Semien had a career-high four hits, including a double, becoming the first Sox rookie with four or more hits in a game since Jerry Owens had five in 2007.
Quintana (1-0) pitched seven innings, allowing two runs, five hits and two walks.