Jose Abreu’s weekend began with a scary collision. It ended Sunday with a daring play on the bases that gave the White Sox a 4-3 victory and further cemented his place in franchise lore.
The Sox tied the game in the ninth on Yoan Moncada’s single off Royals reliever Wade Davis. Moncada advanced to second base when Abreu was hit by a Davis pitch, but he was thrown out at home by Whit Merrifield on a single by Yermin Mercedes to keep the game even at 3.
Abreu had reached third, and when Davis spiked a knuckle-curve to Yasmani Grandal, the 2020 American League MVP scampered home. Royals catcher Cam Gallagher retrieved the ball and dove to tag Abreu. Plate umpire Edwin Moscoso called Abreu safe, and the call was upheld after review to give the Sox a split of the four-game series.
That last play wrapped up an eventful three days for Abreu, whose teammates lauded him all weekend for his toughness, leadership and resilience. Knocked down Friday when he collided with Hunter Dozier, he missed the second half of the doubleheader, somehow recovered in time to play Saturday and homered, then added two more hits Sunday before using his legs and brain to deliver a victory.
“We were talking about all his attributes,” manager Tony La Russa said. “Now you have to add outstanding instinctive baserunning. It’s a great play.”
Royals manager Mike Matheny wasn’t quite as complimentary. He said he saw two camera angles that showed Gallagher tagged Abreu in time and questioned the replay system.
”A game that hard-fought, and they’ve got that much time, and from appearances, it looks like they don’t want to bring them back on the field with this crowd,” Matheny said. “It’s just wrong, and something needs to be done about it.”
The Sox found little wrong with Abreu. Then again, the last three days only confirmed what they knew about him.
Outfielder Adam Eaton, whose two-run homer in the fifth gave the Sox a 2-1 lead, said he didn’t need this weekend to know what kind of person Abreu is.
Abreu also raises the bar for his teammates.
“There’s a standard here, and he is the standard,” Eaton said. “If you don’t meet that standard, you’re going to glare. That’s a beautiful thing. Everyone’s got to get up to that standard and play at a high intensity.”
Abreu and the Sox chose a good time to live up to that standard.
They entered the bottom of the ninth inning three outs away from losing three of four to a team that began the series on an 11-game skid. The bullpen couldn’t hold a lead for right-hander Dylan Cease, and the offense didn’t take advantage of late chances until the ninth, when the Sox pulled out the win to end a 5-2 homestand.
It was the kind of victory Eaton loves to see.
“If you continue to grind, continue to go out there and be productive and have a no-give-in attitude, it shows the character of the clubhouse,” Eaton said.
The Sox aren’t shy about saying where they get their character. La Russa compared Abreu to another first baseman he knows well.
“What’s the highest compliment I can give him?” La Russa said. “He stands right next to Albert [Pujols] for me.”