Abreu paces team on both sides of ball in win

September 22nd, 2019

DETROIT -- If the White Sox are looking for a future marketing slogan to capture this prime core of rebuild talent, a group picking up a third straight win via a 5-3 victory over Detroit Saturday night at Comerica Park, they might want to try something simple such as …

“Is it 2020 yet?”

It’s not quite as catchy as “The Kids Can Play” from their past, but it fits with the stellar performances being turned in by this young talent over the past six weeks. Or how about, “Next season begins in September,” an idea espoused by veteran first baseman José Abreu before the start of this season’s final month.

Following a second consecutive game in which every White Sox starter had a hit, and marking the third time in four games it has happened, Abreu said he likes what he sees along those early preparation lines.

“Yes, absolutely, I like what we have been doing in September,” said Abreu through interpreter Billy Russo. “I truly believe this is the foundation for next year.

“All the guys are improving. They are trying to push themselves to finish the season as strong as possible and just build on that for next year. With a few additions for next year, we are going to be very, very good.”

Abreu has been the model of offensive consistency over his six seasons with the team, minus a rough finish last year due to health issues. His eighth-inning two-run single Saturday night raised his Major League-leading RBI total to 121.

With Abreu being a free agent after ’19, he isn’t a certainty to be back next year -- although with his deep connection to the organization and the young players, he’s all but certain. So, let’s look at the finish of these core players who the White Sox hope will push this team to multiple championships.

Tim Anderson launched his 18th home run against the Tigers on Saturday and features an MLB-leading average of .335. It’s a jump of .095 from a 2018 mark of .240, marking the biggest single-season increase in franchise history.

Yoán Moncada followed Anderson’s fifth-inning homer off of Tyler Alexander with a two-run triple, one of his two hits in the game, raising his average to .315. That increase of .080 ranks fourth all-time for the White Sox.

Anderson and Moncada have reached base in 18 straight games each. Eloy Jiménez increased his hitting streak to 12 contests.

“You see Eloy hitting bombs every day, Moncada the whole year. You don’t have to mention Pito [Abreu], he’s always there, and TA,” said White Sox starting pitcher Iván Nova, who improved to 11-12 with Saturday’s win. “We have a really good ballclub this year and I think these guys are going to get better next year.”

Nova allowed two runs over five innings, using 74 pitches. He was the opener Wednesday against the Twins, throwing one scoreless inning as the equivalent of his regular side session, and admitted he tired down the stretch.

That Nova exit led to Evan Marshall, Aaron Bummer and Alex Colomé finishing off the victory, improving the White Sox to 56-0 when ahead after eight innings. It’s another important building block for the White Sox moving into ’20.

The White Sox also moved within two wins of 70 for the season, with five games remaining against the Tigers. This finish gives the White Sox hope for a vastly improved ’20, but for Abreu and manager Rick Renteria, it’s based on more than just September results.

“Our offense right now is pretty good and it’s going to be better. It’s one of our best areas,” Abreu said. “We can compete with everybody from the offensive standpoint. The pitching staff is good too. We have a lot of talent and it’s a combination, a mix of young guys with a lot of talent with veterans like myself. We are going to be in a very good spot.”

“Certainly, having some of the young men that joined us this season and some of the breakout seasons other guys have had is putting us in a better position and it's giving us a belief and trust that we want to be fighting next year,” Renteria said. “We want to be competing for something.”