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Sox make history with 4 Cubans atop lineup

@scottmerkin
August 2, 2020

Prior to the start of an 11-5 White Sox victory over the Royals on Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium, first baseman José Abreu wanted to know who was hitting fourth in their powerful lineup. When manager Rick Renteria responded with catcher Yasmani Grandal, Abreu knew the first four hitters were

Prior to the start of an 11-5 White Sox victory over the Royals on Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium, first baseman José Abreu wanted to know who was hitting fourth in their powerful lineup.

When manager Rick Renteria responded with catcher Yasmani Grandal, Abreu knew the first four hitters were all of Cuban descent. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it’s the first time in Major League history a team had a Cuban-born player in each of the top four slots in the starting batting order in one game.

“I said, ‘OK, Pito [Abreu’s nickname]. I see,’” said Renteria after his team’s third straight victory. “It was a cool moment for them today when they were taking batting practice and talking about it.

“It's neat. And on top of that, you had a Cuban-born pitcher on the mound, or at least of Cuban descent [Gio González], to start the game.”

With Tim Anderson on the 10-day injured list, Luis Robert was the leadoff hitter and fell a triple short of the cycle with the first four-hit game of his career, including his second career home run. Robert is from Ciego de Avila in Cuba.

Yoán Moncada, from Cienfuegos, finished 3-for-5 with an RBI single in the fifth. Abreu, in his seventh year with the White Sox as a true franchise stalwart and also from Cienfuegos, went 2-for-6. Grandal, from Havana, went 2-for-5 with a two-run double in the ninth that plated both Moncada and Abreu. González didn’t allow a run over 3 2/3 innings in his first start of the season.

The White Sox have a rich history of Cuban players making huge impacts, with Minnie Minoso serving as the first black player in franchise history and one of the most popular and talented players to don the club’s uniform. Right-handed pitchers Jose Contreras and Orlando ‘El Duque’ Hernandez played key roles on the 2005 World Series championship team, but it took Saturday’s game to make this connection something historic.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.