When the game's on the line, there's no batter Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura wants at the plate more than Jose Abreu. That's pretty high praise for a rookie, though Abreu is very little like most rookies who emerge on the scene. At 27, he's long since established himself as a legitimate threat and power hitter during his years in Cuba, but questions always remain about how that will translate to MLB.
In Abreu's case, it's going quite well, and his historic early season tear continued on Wednesday with a go-ahead three-run homer off Luke Gregorson, which catapulted the White Sox to a 4-2 victory over the Oakland A's and snapped their four-game losing streak.
''We realize what he is and how important he is to us,'' manager Robin Ventura said. ''When you get in situations like that you're pretty glad he's up there. That's what he means to us. You always feel like you're in a good spot if he's up there with guys on.''
The home run was Abreu's MLB leading 15th of the season. He's up to 41 RBIs through 42 games after already setting a new rookie record for RBIs in April with 31. Barring something unforeseen, the AL Rookie of the Year award will come down to Abreu or Masahiro Tanaka of the Yankees, but the feeling is he's only going to get better.
Be afraid, MLB. Be very afraid.
RAYS PITCH THEIR WAY TO SERIES WIN OVER MARINERS: Less than 24 hours after David Price went the distance in a one-run Rays win, Jake Odorizzi held the Seattle Mariners hitless over the first five and two-third innings and scoreless over six, and then watched three relievers bring home a 2-0 win.
Odorizzi was dominant, striking out eight and only allowed two walks. In fact, the Rays allowed only two hits overall, but managed just three of their own in the win. Their only two runs scored in the fourth inning on a bases loaded walk to Yunel Escobar and a wild pitch scoring Wil Myers.
It was definitely a struggle offensively, but the darkest cloud hanging over the win arrived when Ben Zobrist suffered a dislocated thumb on a head-first slide into second base. Zobrist's injury isn't considered serious, but the Rays will give it a day or two to see how it responds.
''We're getting different opinions. I think a lot of it has to do with how sore he is tomorrow, how swollen and sore,'' Maddon said. ''That could indicate DL. That could indicate maybe not.''
David Ortiz is absolutely feasting on Minnesota Twins pitching this week. On Tuesday, he collected four hits, including a pair of home runs, and drove in four runs despite manager Ron Gardenhire's game plan to not let Ortiz beat his pitching staff. On Wednesday, he followed up by going 3 for 5 with two more solo homers as the Red Sox sailed to a 9-4 victory.ORTIZ HOMERS TWICE — AGAIN:
It might be time to kindly ask John Farrell to remove Ortiz from the lineup, because that's the only way to slow him down once he's entered a hot streak. Another idea may be to petition the league to move the games away from Target Field. In 13 career games there, Ortiz is batting .528 (28 of 53).
Also worth noting, the two home runs moved Ortiz into sole possession of third place on Boston's all-time homers list with 384. He trailed only Ted Williams (521) and Carl Yastrzemski (452). Ortiz's 442 career homers — he hit 58 as a member of the Twins — moved him into a tie with Dave Kingman for 39th place on baseball's all-time home run list.
MARLINS PUMMEL DODGERS INTO SUBMISSION: Just when it looked like the Los Angeles Dodgers may be ready to string together a few wins, they were shredded by the worst road team in MLB. The Miami Marlins, who entered play with a 3-15 mark away from Marlins Park, pounded out 17 hits and scored a season-high in runs, defeating Los Angeles 13-3.
Paul Maholm took the brunt of the barrage, allowing 10 runs (five earned) over three and two-thirds innings. Miami touched him up for six in the second, which was aided by second baseman Dee Gordon's fielding error. They scored six more in the fourth, and that was more than enough to make 24-year-old Anthony DeSclafani feel secure in his major league debut.
DeSclafani even contributed to the hit parade with a single and two RBIs. On the mound, he tossed six innings and allowed two earned runs. It was simply the Marlins night, although the Dodgers did have a bright spot in the ninth inning when backup catcher Drew Butera took the hill and tossed a perfect inning. He even channeled Mitch Moreland, striking out Marcel Ozuna on a 94-mph fastball.
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