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Abreu leads White Sox breakout in Baltimore

Slugger raps 3 hits, drives in 5 as Sox set season highs in runs and hits
April 22, 2019

BALTIMORE -- May is just around the corner. You can tell by José Abreu's swings. Often a slow starter, the two-time All-Star slugger appears to be warming up from his latest sluggish April after driving in five runs in the White Sox 12-2 win over the Orioles on Monday night

BALTIMORE -- May is just around the corner. You can tell by José Abreu's swings.

Often a slow starter, the two-time All-Star slugger appears to be warming up from his latest sluggish April after driving in five runs in the White Sox 12-2 win over the Orioles on Monday night at Oriole Park.

Albeit against the worst pitching staff in the Majors, Abreu homered for the first time in 55 at-bats and contributed his first three-hit game of 2019. More importantly, the performance continued a trend for the veteran first baseman, who is now 6-for-15 over his past three games, lifting his average above the Mendoza Line to .214, a high-water mark since April 9.

“I just try to focus on the things that I can help this team on,” Abreu said, through an interpreter. “And I know that at the end of the day, at the end of the season, the numbers, the stats are going to be there. So my focus is just trying to find ways to help this team win games.”

Abreu has extra-base hits in three straight games for the first time this season, in a month that has historically been his weakest. He has a .258/.326/.486 career line lifetime in April, all considerably below his overall career averages.

In fact, Abreu had similar performances in April in both 2016 and '17. He finished each season with at least 25 home runs and 100 RBIs, with a batting average around .300.

“A lot of guys early on don’t really get into a rhythm,” said White Sox manager Rick Renteria. “He ends up just grinding through to try to keep himself afloat until he catches a little bit more and gets himself more in sync.”

The White Sox pounded out a season-high 15 hits and scored their most runs of the season, and there’s more potential good news Tuesday: Abreu will get to face O's right-hander Andrew Cashner, against whom he’s 6-for-9 lifetime, with two doubles and two RBIs.

But Abreu is more excited about what his lineup mates are proving capable of. Tim Anderson is still batting .403 despite going 1-for-5 Monday. James McCann homered, had three hits and drove in four runs from the No. 7 spot, and Yolmer Sanchez also had a three-hit day in the No. 8 hole as the White Sox scored six or more runs for the eighth time in their opening 21 games.

“It’s a good mix with the veteran guys and the young kids with talent,” Abreu said. “And that’s important. Because it’s not just young kids or old guys, it’s talent. We have talent here. And we know that we can display that.”

After striking out and fouling out his first two times up, Abreu singled past diving shortstop Richie Martin to drive in Leury Garcia in Chicago’s four-run fifth off starter David Hess.

Abreu commenced another four-run inning in the seventh when he took Tanner Scott’s 2-0 fastball to the opposite field for a two-run shot, easily reaching the flag court in front of Eutaw Street. Then he helped the White Sox score four more in the eighth when he blistered a two-run single, before popping out against catcher-turned-reliever Jesus Sucre in the ninth.

“I think he’s working toward trying to get himself back on track, just getting comfortable in the box again,” Renteria said of Abreu. “He’s been around a while. Even if you feel like he’s having lows, he has a way of working himself through them.”