CHICAGO — Chicago White Sox 1B/DH Jose Abreu has lived up to the hype this weekend.
The Cuban defector who signed a six-year, $68 million contract in the offseason, has three home runs and 10 RBIs in the first three games of this weekend series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
He won Friday's game with a walk-off grand slam — his second homer of the game — and put Sunday's 9-2 victory out of reach with a two-run homer off LHP David Price in the sixth inning and a two-run single off RHP Josh Lueke in the seventh.
“He's pretty strong,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “He's been pretty impressive during this series. He is good. He's going to get better.”
Abreu now holds the major league rookie record for home runs (10) in the month of April. His 31 RBIs are the most by a White Sox player in April. He's also the first player in major league history to drive in at least four runs in four of his first 26 big league games.
“He's pretty good,” RF Wil Myers said. “He can swing it.”
Price and Myers each committed errors on a bunt by 3B Marcus Semien when Abreu stepped to the plate in the fifth inning. Price hung a changeup on his first pitch, and Abreu drilled it into the left-field seats.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Price said when asked if he was frustrated by the previous play. “It's part of it. It's a growing experience. Hopefully I can learn from it.”
Maddon wasn't so sure Price's state of mind played a role in the home run.
“It was just a bad pitch. It was up and he didn't miss it. That's what I saw,” Maddon said. “It seems to me like Abreu, if he catches anything bad up in the zone, he doesn't miss it. That's what I've seen during the course of this series.”
First time is a charm: RHP Scott Carroll, 29, was the oldest pitcher in 32 years to make his major league debut with the White Sox and it was memorable, largely because the Rays committed a franchise-record four errors in one inning and because he was facing the Rays.
Carroll was the 25th starting pitcher to make his MLB debut against Tampa Bay. Those rookies are a combined 10-7 while their teams are now 15-10.
Maddon said Carroll, who faced Triple-A Durham earlier this season, pitched exactly how the scouting record said he would.
“He put the ball on the ground, threw strikes, didn't walk people,” Maddon said. “I saw the one thing that he may walk lefties and I saw his game log from this year. The last game out he got hit a little bit, but he made some corrections and he pitched very well.”
Second time blues: Rays RHP Jake Odorizzi's troubles this season stem from his inability to shut down a team the second time he faces the order.
Teams are batting .121 against Odorizzi during the first time through the order, .429 the second time through and .500 the third time through.
In 13 career starts, those numbers jump from .208 to .284 to .483.
Rain on the way? Rain is in the forecast today in Chicago.
If tonight's game is postponed, the teams have only two common off days for a makeup — May 29 and Sept. 18.
Neither is ideal. May 29 is an off day for the Rays in between a series at Toronto and one at Boston. Sept. 18 is an off day during a road trip for the White Sox and would fall before the White Sox begin a three-game series at Tropicana Field.
Noteworthy: RHP Jeremy Hellickson pitched off the mound Sunday for the first time since his elbow surgery on Jan. 28. He threw 20 fastballs, and everything went well according to the team ... 1B James Loney had his seven-game hit streak come to an end ... David DeJesus was the DH because of a sore left shoulder suffered while making a diving catch on the previous homestand ... C Ryan Hanigan caught his third shutout of the season Saturday. He has caught 14 shutouts in his last 85 starts ... Price now has four losses against the White Sox, his most against any team ... Lueke has allowed eight of his nine inherited runners to score.