Jose Abreu held in check as White Sox fall to Twins
BY DAVID JUST For Sun-Times Media August 2, 2014 9:44PM
Chicago White Sox left fielder Alejandro De Aza can't make the play on a double hit by Minnesota Twins' Oswaldo Arcia during the eighth inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Updated: August 2, 2014 11:13PM
Jose Abreu walked twice Saturday but wasn’t able to extend his hitting streak to a 22nd game.
The White Sox rookie had five plate appearances but reached base only on a four-pitch walk in the third inning and an intentional walk in the seventh as a chorus of boos filled U.S. Cellular Field.
If Abreu continues to hit like he has the last two months, that’s a sight and sound Sox fans will have to get used to.
But there was plenty to like about Abreu and his impact on the rest of the offense, even though the bullpen relinquished a lead to the Minnesota Twins in the eighth inning of an 8-6 loss.
‘‘You’re getting in better [hitting] situations,’’ Sox manager Robin Ventura said. ‘‘There have been spots where they’re going to pitch around him and be very careful with him. Other guys are getting opportunities to drive in runs and do something.’’
That was clear during a four-run seventh in which Adam Eaton and Gordon Beckham doubled in front of Abreu’s walk. Alexei Ramirez drove in a run two batters later to give the Sox a 6-4 lead.
The lead didn’t last long, though. Ronald Belisario was charged with three runs in the eighth, and Jake Petricka blew a save chance for the second time this season.
Abreu has reached base safely in 22 consecutive games and in all but one game since June 12. His batting average has risen from .255 to .308 since June 8.
‘‘We’ve tried everything,’’ Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. ‘‘We’ve thrown breaking balls. We’ve bounced balls. The young man’s a nice hitter. He’s comfortable right now. Obviously he’s swinging very good, and you’ve just got to try to keep mixing it up. You can’t get into patterns on him.’’
Abreu started the season slowly and was hitting only .200 nearly three weeks in. He said his improvement is due almost entirely to finding a routine. By that, he means everything he does — inside and outside the stadium.
‘‘Everything from when I wake up in my apartment to when I get here to my routine after a game,’’ Abreu said. ‘‘I think all those things are important in how we play. . . . At first, it was difficult. We are playing the best pitchers in the world. I’ve learned to work through that, and that’s through doing my homework, looking at video, getting extra at-bats, lifting, doing all those things.’’
Even Abreu’s outs were impressive. His first at-bat resulted in a pop fly to first after he fell behind 0-2 and worked the count full. His last at-bat featured four foul balls before he grounded to short.
The Sox have scored five runs or more in seven of their last nine games, and Abreu certainly has made an impact.
‘‘I never had any doubt or question that I could play and help at this level,’’ Abreu said. ‘‘I always felt that at the end of the year, whatever numbers would be there, I could help this team win.’’