Jose Abreu makes history with 20th home run in White Sox win
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter June 18, 2014 4:40PM
Updated: June 18, 2014 10:29PM
Jose Abreu owned up for not running to first base after a dropped third strike the night before. Then he put it behind him by ripping a home run into the left-field bleachers in the first inning Wednesday afternoon.
Abreu’s 20th homer in his first major-league season came on an 0-2 pitch against right-hander Tim Hudson, who entered the game with a National League-best 1.81 ERA. The laser shot set the tone for a 7-6 victory that completed a two-game series sweep of the San Francisco Giants before 20,059 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Abreu wasted no time making amends, and he is moving as fast as he can to again confirm Sox management’s belief that $68 million for six years of his services would be a bargain. In his 58th career game, the 27-year-old Cuban slugger is the third-fastest to reach 20 homers in major-league history. Only Wally Berger in 51 games in 1930 and Mark McGwire in 56 games in 1987 were faster. Abreu is also the third-fastest Sox to reach 20 homers in a season. Frank Thomas did it in 46 games in 1994, and Jim Thome did it in 49 in 2006.
Abreu wasn’t aware of the piece of history he had carved out. He was aware of his poor judgment the night before, which prompted a short talking-to from bench coach Mark Parent during the game.
“Those are things that I forget, I leave behind,’’ Abreu said. “That just happened yesterday. I learned from it and I keep going. Those are stones in life. … you just found in front of you, and you’ve got to learn from it and keep going.”
Adam Dunn also had a day for the books, lifting a three-run homer in the fifth against Hudson that gave the Sox a 7-2 lead. It was Dunn’s 12th of the season and 452nd of his career, tying him with Carl Yastrzemski for 35th on the all-time list. Dunn also hit an 0-2 pitch from Hudson, who had given up 0-2 homers on the third pitch of an at-bat only twice in his career before the game.
The Sox needed Dunn’s blast — even with Chris Sale (6-1) pitching — after none among the bullpen mix of Jake Petricka, Zach Putnam, Scott Downs and Ronald Belisario was able to contribute shutdown relief. Belisario got a five-out save, allowing a run in the ninth.
Regardless, the Sox left for an 11-game road trip that starts in Minnesota on Thursday feeling a little better about themselves after getting swept over the weekend by the red-hot Kansas City Royals. The Giants (43-29), though in a rut of late, had the best record in the NL.
“We came through with the big hits,’’ said catcher Tyler Flowers, whose two-run single in the fourth broke an 0-for-25 skid, “and were able to execute pitches on the defensive side when we got in those big situations.’’
“Our guys, they’re tough,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “They just keep grinding. We know we didn’t play well against K.C. but we put it behind us and kept going. The schedule keeps going and it doesn’t stop. If you want to look in the rearview mirror and wallow on that, you’re going to get beat a lot more.’’
Not showing hustle or effort was out of character for Abreu, whose play during his first year in the majors since coming over from Cuba hasn’t lacked for effort.
“[Frustration is] part of it but he understands,’’ Ventura said.
The good thing is that he didn’t, as Ventura put it, wallow in self-pity over a mistake that had no bearing on the outcome of a game.
“I’ve continued to do the things to help the White Sox win,’’ he said.
That he has.