Jose Abreu hits 19th HR, helps White Sox solve Verlander in win
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter June 11, 2014 10:30PM
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Updated: June 12, 2014 12:23AM
Jose Abreu has made an impression on just about all who’ve seen or faced him during the first two-plus months of his major-league career.
Justin Verlander for one. Abreu hit a 435-foot homer against the Tigers’ six-time All-Star the first time he faced him in Detroit six weeks ago, and he hit a 407-foot shot against him leading off the second inning in the Sox’ 8-2 victory Wednesday at U.S. Cellular Field, the team’s second in as many games against the American League Central leaders.
“He’s an impressive young man. But he can be better,’’ hitting coach Todd Steverson said of Abreu, who has 19 homers and 50 RBI.
“He’s going to get pitched to pretty tough because he’s proved to people, ‘Hey, I can drive the ball out of the ballpark and drive it off a wall,’ ’’ Steverson said. “Teams aren’t going to just sit there and soft-toss the ball down the middle for him and see what’s going on. They’re going to pitch him tough.’’
After Verlander struck him out on a pitch down in the zone with the bases loaded and two outs in the third, Abreu laid off a sharp breaking ball, then started a seven-run sixth with a single to left. He finished 3-for-4 with an intentional walk.
“He can make the adjustment,’’ Steverson said. “He knows when it’s not a strike, but the ability to climb out of that rut and not let it go too far is a testament to who you are.’’
Just who the Sox (33-33) are in mid-June is still being defined after John Danks’ fourth consecutive excellent start helped pull the Sox to within 2½ games of the Tigers (33-28), who have lost 16 of 22. Verlander is 6-6 with a 4.61 ERA.
“It’s kind of everything that can go wrong is going wrong, not just for myself,’’ Verlander said.
Verlander was anything but a pushover, Sox manager Robin Ventura insisted, even though he allowed seven runs, eight hits and four walks in 52/3 innings. He faced eight of the 12 Sox who batted in the sixth.
“I don’t care what the numbers are or [what he has done the] last couple of games, he’s a tough guy to beat,’’ Ventura said.
So is 2013 AL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, who pitches the series finale Thursday, but the Sox — going for a three-game sweep — counter with Chris Sale. The Sox continue to downplay the significance of games in June, but Ventura allowed that staying out of losing streaks is at least a good thing.
“You can hurt yourself if you go into a tailspin here,’’ he said. “In Anaheim, we didn’t play that well [swept in three games], and we’ve bounced back and played well for a couple of games. That’s the stuff you’re looking for: They can bounce back after looking like they did in Anaheim and come back against the team that’s leading your division and play well. You continue to do that, and you’re going to be all right.’’
The seven-run inning matched a Sox season high and was highlighted by Adam Dunn’s two singles (the second for the last RBI of the inning), a two-run single by Gordon Beckham and a two-run double by Conor Gillaspie.
Danks (5-5, 4.17 ERA) gave up two runs in seven innings. He has allowed five runs over his last 291/3 innings (1.53 ERA).
“He’s been able to spot his fastball inside and get guys to chase that changeup fading away,’’ Ventura said. “That’s always been his pitch, and to be able to have that back and have the feel of it has really been a difference for him.’’