Jose Abreu doubled in three runs, Yoan Moncada homered for the first time since Aug. 17 and the bullpen pitched six scoreless innings
Jose Abreu has had so many big hits for the White Sox this season, you could almost feel another one swirling around in the tricky wind at Guaranteed Rate Field Saturday night.
And sure enough, the Sox’ leader, RBI leader and their leading candidate to win American League Most Valuable Player honors, delivered again when the Sox needed him Saturday.
Really, really, really needed him.
Needing to halt the bleed of a six-game losing streak with one game left to go before the postseason, the Sox (35-24) rallied past the Cubs (33-26) for a 9-5 victory, and it was Abreu who struck the big blow against Ryan Tepera in the fourth inning with a three-run double over left fielder Kyle Schwarber’s head. The 109-mph tracer one-hopped the fence and erased a 5-4 deficit for the Sox, who had an all-too familiar sinking feeling after the events of a horrendous week when Kris Bryant belted a grand slam against Sox starter Dane Dunning in the third.
But Abreu came through and Yoan Moncada, battling the lingering effects of the coronavirus, homered for the first time since Aug. 17 in the sixth to give the Sox a 9-5 lead.
With the Twins defeating the Reds to hold a one-game lead in first place ahead of the Sox in the AL Central, the Sox can win the division if they beat the Cubs in the last game of the season Sunday and the Twins lose. The Sox were 5-5 against the Twins but own the tiebreaker because of their better record within the division.
The Indians dropped a game behind the Sox, whose opponent possibilities for the postseason are numerous going into the final day. If the Sox win and Twins and Athletics lose, the Sox would be the No. 2 seed. If the Sox lose and the Indians win, the Sox would be the No. 7 seed.
The Sox’ bullpen, showcasing an arsenal they plan to use in the postseason, blanked the Cubs on two hits over the final six innings, both singles against Garrett Crochet. Matt Foster (6-1), Crochet, Aaron Bummer and Alex Colome were nearly flawless, with Marshall making his first appearance since coming off the injured list.
None was more electric than Crochet, the rookie left-hander who made his fifth straight scoreless appearance since getting called up from Schaumburg, pitching two innings for the first time and striking out three while allowing two singles. In the fifth inning, he threw 10 pitches, eight for strikes and touched 100 mph eight times.
But the star of the night – and this season – was Abreu, whose RBI total climbed to 60, which means he will average at least one per game after he plays in his 60th game Sunday when the regular season comes to a close. The only Sox to play in every game in this abbreviated season, Abreu became the first qualifying player to record as many RBI as games played since 2001 when Sammy Sosa (160) and Juan Gonzalez (140) finished with the same of games and RBI. Manny Ramirez with 122 RBI in 118 games in 2000 is the last player to finish a season with more RBI than games.
Dunning, in the mix for a start in a potential Game 3 in the upcoming Wild Card series, lasted three innings and allowed five runs (four earned) on three hits, three walks and a hit batter. A strike thrower by trade, Dunning threw just 32 of his 64 pitches for strikes.
James McCann also homered for the Sox, who dealt Jon Lester the loss to give them a 14-0 record against left-handed starters this season. McCann’s pop fly that fell between Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward and second baseman Jason Kipnis got the Sox’ five run fourth inning started.