Jose Abreu's Rookie of the Year campaign picked up a little more steam on Friday. The Chicago White Sox first baseman went deep not once, but twice, including an impressive opposite field walkoff grand slam that stunned Tampa Bay Rays closer Grant Balfour and gave Chicago a 9-6 victory.
The walkoff slam capped a wild — literally and figuratively — night that saw Chicago overcome 11 walks and a 6-4 deficit in the ninth inning. Alejandro De Aza started the rally with a one out double to left center. Walks to Tyler Flowers and Paul Konerko followed. After Adam Eaton nearly grounded into a game-ending double play, Marcus Simien also walked, setting up Abreu's big moment.
Ironically, the three walks issued by Balfour were the only three from Tampa pitching the entire game.
Abreu's other home run was a solo shot in the fourth. He also started the game's scoring with an RBI single in the first, giving him a career-high six runs batted in for the game and 27 for the season. He also has a 5-RBI, 4-RBI and three 3-RBI games in his first 24 games.
The multi-homer game was Abreu's third of the season. His nine home runs are the most ever by a rookie in April. He still has five days to add on.
One guy who definitely came away impressed on Friday? Rays manager Joe Maddon.
''Pretty impressive. Really a big, strong fella with a controlled attitude at the plate that's not a wild swinger. You have to make good pitches to him or he's going to hurt you like he did tonight,'' Maddon said. ''It's not fun when that happens, but I'm still going to go out for my Guinness tonight regardless.''
It was Granderson's only hit in five trips during the game and only his seventh RBI all season. Not exactly the production New York was looking for when signing him to a four-year, $60 million deal in the offseason, but sometimes it's more about when it happens than how often, and in this case he picked a great time to come through.
''Anytime you get a chance to win and jump up and down with your teammates, it's a good thing,'' Granderson said.
Marlins closer Steve Cishek had converted 33 straight save attempts coming in, the longest active streak in the majors, so even a 3-2 deficit probably felt insurmountable. Lucas Duda started the rally with a bloop single and eventually came around to score the tying run on Omar Quintanilla's RBI single. A Kirk Niewenhuis double then set the stage for Granderson, who with first base open often times would not even get an opportunity to hit in that situation, but Miami took their chances and lost.
DODGERS ROUGH WEEK CONTINUE: The Los Angeles Dodgers started the week 12-6 and seemed poised to fatten up with seven games against the Philadelphia Phillies and Colorado Rockies at home. It hasn't quite worked out that way. After dropping three of four to Philadelphia earlier in the week, Los Angeles fell again 5-4 to Colorado in 11 innings.
Josh Beckett, going for his first win since Sept 30, 2012, allowed solo home runs to Troy Tulowitzki and Corey Dickerson in the second and little else over eight innings, but received no help from his offense after the third. In fact, the game remained tied 2-2 until the final inning when Colorado broke through for three on RBIs from Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez and Justin Morneau. Adrian Gonzalez countered with a two-run homer off LaTroy Hawkins in the bottom half but it wasn't enough for LA.
Ian Stewart, Erick Aybar and Colin Cowgill also contributed homers out of the sixth, eighth and ninth spots respectively. In fact, the Angels bottom four hitters combined to go 10-for-19 with 10 RBIs and eight runs scored, giving C.J. Wilson (six innings, one earned run, four hits) more than enough security.
On the Yankees side, that’s the fourth time this season they've allowed double-digit runs. That's tied for the most in MLB with the Rockies and White Sox.
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