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White Sox big four chase career milestones

Offensive push from Moncada, Abreu, Jimenez, Anderson fuels victory
@DKramer_
September 14, 2019

SEATTLE -- It was a big night for the big four in the White Sox lineup, as Chicago held on to a 9-7 win over the Mariners in a marathon series opener Friday night at T-Mobile Park. Yoán Moncada finished a homer shy of the cycle (literally feet short after

SEATTLE -- It was a big night for the big four in the White Sox lineup, as Chicago held on to a 9-7 win over the Mariners in a marathon series opener Friday night at T-Mobile Park.

Yoán Moncada finished a homer shy of the cycle (literally feet short after flying out to the warning track in the ninth). José Abreu extended his American League RBI lead by crushing a 447-foot solo home run off Yusei Kikuchi during the first inning. Eloy Jiménez belted his 27th homer to extend his lead among AL rookies. And Tim Anderson maintained a comfortable cushion for the AL batting title with a 2-for-5 night.

Box score

Here’s a breakdown of each player’s night, and what it means for the White Sox with just over two weeks remaining in the season.

8 surprising league leaders in this wild year

Moncada

He’s arguably been the Majors’ hottest hitter the past two weeks. Friday marked Moncada’s seventh multi-hit game in his past 10 games, over which he’s slashed .487/.512/.718. Most notable for Moncada on Friday was that his three hits came against lefties Kikuchi and Wade LeBlanc. The fourth-year switch-hitter has stark splits against left-handers over his career, but he’s taken a significant leap forward against them this season.

Moncada vs. lefties

Career: .238/.305/.373

2018: .209/.287/.297

2019: .275/.329/.471

“Yes, I think so,” Moncada said through interpreter Billy Russo, of his improvements vs. southpaws. “I've been working hard for it and I will continue working hard.”

“That was one of the things that I know everybody talked about, including ourselves, as to how [Moncada] would continue to progress vs. lefties,” White Sox manager Rick Rentieria said. “He started it straight from the spring, has continued to evolve and get better, and tonight was obviously an example of it. But he continues to improve and grow.”

Moncada’s bat speed is as elite as any player in the Majors. His 92.7 mph exit velocity entering Friday ranked sixth among 197 qualified hitters, and he registered two hits of at least 105 mph on Friday.

Abreu

Abreu extended his hit streak to eight games early, lifting a solo shot off the left-field scoreboard in the first inning. He baited Kikuchi into a two-strike count on a nasty slider before making the Japanese rookie pay with his 33rd homer.

“That was a great at-bat by Pito,” Renteria said. “He's seeing the ball very well. He's been one of our big guys all season long. If you look at his numbers, he's tops among the league in RBIs and homers. He's been a big piece of who we are.”

Abreu is looking to become the first White Sox hitter to win the AL RBI crown since Dick Allen in 1972, and his career-high 116 is the most in club history since Jermaine Dye hit 120 in ’06.

Anderson

Anderson’s RBI single and double helped him maintain pace in the race for the AL batting title. His .334 average edges second-place DJ LeMahieu of the Yankees (.325) and third-place Michael Brantley of the Astros (.321). After stepping to the plate six times Friday, Anderson needs just 36 plate appearances to qualify.

And dating back to their series against Seattle at Guaranteed Rate Field from April 4-6 -- when the Mariners were in the midst of an MLB-best 13-2 start -- Anderson is now 12-for-18 against the club in ’19.

“I'm just trying to stay consistent in what I'm doing and not worry about the rest of that stuff,” Anderson said.

Anderson did not walk on Friday, meaning his bid to win the batting crown and do so with the fewest walks is still in play, as he’s walked just 12 times.

Jimenez

As DH, Jimenez’s night was mostly quiet until he pushed a 350-foot homer to right field for his third of the week. He also homered and had four RBIs in Wednesday’s loss to the Royals and hit his first career grand slam on Tuesday off the Royals’ Jakob Junis. Over his past 15 games, the rookie is hitting .355/.403/.661.

“He's getting a little more comfortable seeing the ball again,” Renteria said. “Obviously, feeling it, having a lot of fun out there. ... I think he's starting to enjoy himself a little bit and kind of get a feel. He continues to learn and just mature.”

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.