Jose Abreu knew he needed a triple to hit for the cycle.
Hit the ball to the alley, Avisail Garcia told him moments before he walked to the plate. Go for three bases.
So he did. And he made history.
“It’s something wonderful,” Abreu said. “To have the opportunity to hit for the cycle here, in Chicago, for this organization, is something wonderful.”
Abreu became the sixth White Sox player to hit for the cycle and the first since Jose Valentin on April 27, 2000. He homered in the first inning, doubled in the third, singled in the seventh and tripled in the eighth.
The Sox rolled to a 13-1 victory against the Giants behind Abreu’s performance and a season-high six home runs.
Teammates cheered and pumped their fists in the dugout after Abreu chugged around the bases and slid safely into third to complete the rare accomplishment. Abreu almost stumbled shortly after he rounded second base, but the 6-3, 255-pound slugger regained his balance and easily beat the throw.
“My legs weren’t responding,” Abreu said, drawing laughs. “But I’m a warrior.”
Earlier in the day, Abreu was a worrier. He was unable to sleep overnight as he thought about his son and grandmother in his native Cuba, where Hurricane Irma pounded the northern coast for much of the day.
Before batting practice, Abreu received word that his family was OK.
“They are good,” he said. “Thank God they are good.”
Still, Abreu’s wife and mother remained in the hurricane’s path as they bunkered down at his house in Miami. Abreu said he built the house “like a fort” so it could endure hurricane season.
“I think what I did today is something important for them, too,” Abreu said. “It’s a little bit of joy for them in this moment. I’ve been awake since 3 a.m. this morning just thinking about all the things that are happening in Cuba with the hurricane and now in Miami.”
The cycle almost did not happen. During his last at-bat, Abreu fouled a ball off his shin and grimaced in pain as manager Rick Renteria and trainer Herm Schneider came out of the dugout to check on him.
Abreu stayed in, of course.
“I actually started trying to grab his bat,” Renteria said. “He pulled it away, and I said, ‘OK, he’s good.’ ’’
Abreu’s effort overshadowed a sharp outing by James Shields, who held the Giants to one run in seven innings. Shields earned his first win since June 29 but had no problem with Abreu seizing the headlines.
“He’s unbelievable,” Shields said. “He’s unreal. He’s one of the best teammates I’ve been around.
“A lot of people don’t realize how hard that guy works. He works his butt off. He’s in here at noon working out every day when nobody’s even in here. He has a lot of fun. He’s starting to have fun with the guys in the clubhouse. He brings a great attitude every day, and I love it.”
Giants starter Jeff Samardzija said Abreu’s career success has not come by accident.
“He’s always been an amazing hitter,” Samardzija said. “I got to see it firsthand. Dude was the first guy in the cage every day, first guy at the park. He takes it personally, loves to play the game.”
Abreu gripped a keepsake baseball after the game. Someone had scrawled “CYCLE, 9/9/17” on the ball.
“The cycle, it wasn’t just for me,” Abreu said. “My teammates were part of it, too. To have the opportunity to share that moment with them was special.”
Follow me on Twitter @tcmusick.