Abreu joins exclusive 30-HR, 100-RBI club
CHICAGO -- White Sox slugger Jose Abreu joined an extremely exclusive club, of which he is now just the second member, during the seventh inning of Thursday night's 6-4 loss to the American League Central champion Royals.
Facing reliever Luke Hochevar with two out and runners on second and third, Abreu singled past third baseman Mike Moustakas to drive in two runs and cut the Royals' four-run lead in half. Abreu also picked up RBIs No. 100 and 101 in the process, putting him in rarified air with Albert Pujols (2001-02) as the only Major Leaguers to have at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of their first two seasons.
After the game, a beaming Abreu stood in front of his locker and thanked everyone who has been a part of his Major League success and his transition from Cuba to the United States. There were words of praise for the White Sox, his family and even the media, which have chronicled each step taken during these two seasons.
"I'm very happy about this," said a smiling Abreu through interpreter and White Sox Spanish language broadcaster Billy Russo.
There was one special thank you that Abreu planned on delivering by text later Thursday evening. It was for Pujols, one of the game's greats, but more importantly for Abreu, a legend who went out of his way to give Abreu advice during his first Spring Training two years ago.
It's a gesture Abreu has never forgotten.
"He has helped me a lot," Abreu said. "He has been a huge factor in my success because when I first came here, he gave me some advice which helped me pass through these first two years.
"Absolutely it is a big honor to see my name along with Albert. He's one of the greatest players in the history of baseball."
Abreu's home run on Wednesday night, also off Hochevar and in the seventh inning, made him just the third player to have at least 30 homers in each of his first two seasons, joining Pujols and Ryan Braun. The White Sox first baseman became the 12th player to produce at least 100 RBIs in each of his first two seasons and the first since Hideki Matsui in 2003-04. Abreu and Albert Belle (1997-98) are the only two players in franchise history to do it in their first two years with the White Sox.
Upon reaching first base, Abreu got a hug from coach Daryl Boston and cracked a broad smile showing how much the moment meant. It was a sense of relief for Abreu, who has been thinking about this mark with his team out of contention. It was a sense of pride for the White Sox, who hold Abreu in such high esteem.
"Definitely never had a better teammate," starting pitcher John Danks said of Abreu. "I've had a lot tied with him, but he's not only an incredible talent -- he's one of the best hitters in all of baseball -- but he's very humble, very team-oriented. Shoot, I don't think I've ever seen him not smile. He's a great guy."
"This is important," manager Robin Ventura said. "For him it's special."