It didn’t take long for Jose Abreu to make an impression in the majors, doubling in his first at-bat against Minnesota in the season opener.
Since then, the Chicago White Sox slugger has continued to shine – and have his way with the Twins.
Abreu looks to extend his hitting streak to 22 after another solid performance as Chicago hosts Minnesota on Saturday night.
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That hit in the March 31 opener was the beginning of an offensive showing that could go down as one of the most impressive for a rookie. Abreu leads the majors with 31 homers and 84 RBIs, and his current hitting streak is the longest for a White Sox rookie since Chico Carrasquel’s 24-game run in 1950.
"Anything you throw up there I think he’s going to hit hard," manager Robin Ventura said of Abreu, who is batting .429 during his streak and has hit safely in 39 of 40.
Abreu went 3 for 3 with an RBI, walked and was hit by a pitch in Friday’s 10-8 win over the Twins. He’s batting .388 with seven extra-base hits and 15 RBIs while hitting safely in all 12 matchups with Minnesota.
"His plate coverage is unreal," Twins reliever Casey Fien said. "He can cover the inside and he can cover the outside, so you’ve definitely got to make your pitches with him."
Abreu’s surge has helped Chicago (54-56) win six of eight after Paul Konerko and Alexei Ramirez hit back-to-back RBI singles off Fien in the eighth to give the White Sox the lead for good Friday.
Chicago is 5 1/2 games behind Toronto for the AL’s second wild-card spot and seven back of Detroit for the Central lead.
"As long as we come in every day and string some stuff together, I don’t see why we couldn’t be there with anybody else," said starter Chris Sale, who struck out seven in six innings.
Abreu is 1 for 5 with a double off Minnesota starter Yohan Pino, who will face the White Sox for the third time in eight starts and made his major league debut against them June 19.
Pino (1-3, 4.38 ERA) gave up two runs in seven innings to help the Twins win that contest 4-2, then gave up two runs in six innings of Sunday’s 4-3 victory over Chicago. He didn’t get the decision either time.
Since posting a 6.32 ERA over his first three outings, Pino is 1-1 with a 3.09 ERA over his last four.
The right-hander again will be opposed by fellow rookie Scott Carroll, who also pitched well Sunday while giving up one run in six innings.
Carroll (4-6, 4.29) had a 6.75 ERA through his first seven starts but since has a 2.38 ERA in four outings. He was solid against the Twins despite having to leave early because of a blister on his middle finger.
"It’s something that came up in my last start. It flared up a little bit," Carroll said. "I wasn’t able to fully finish pitches like I wanted to."
The right-hander will face a Minnesota team that has dropped three straight despite leading in the fifth inning of each and 5-2 in the third Friday. Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe had three hits apiece and Kurt Suzuki had three RBIs for the Twins (48-60).
"You score eight runs with (Sale) starting the ballgame, Las Vegas would take those odds that you’re probably going to win the ballgame," manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Minnesota starting pitchers have lasted fewer than five full innings 21 times this season after Logan Darnell went four in the opener.