Chicago White Sox

Red-hot Jose Abreu finishes home run shy of second cycle in three games

Red-hot Jose Abreu finishes home run shy of second cycle in three games

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jose Abreu is locked in like its 2014 again.

About the only thing White Sox slugger hasn’t done of late is complete that pesky second cycle. But otherwise he’s performing similar to how he did when he was the unanimous American League rookie of the year.

Abreu finished a home run shy of yet another cycle on Monday night only two days after he achieved the feat for the first time in his career. He batted with two outs in the ninth inning of an 11-3 White Sox victory over the Kansas City Royals with a chance to accomplish the feat once again but drew a walk against reliever Trevor Cahill. Abreu finished 4-for-5 with a double, triple, walk and two RBIs as he continued a torrid stretch.

“We were sitting in anticipation watching the at-bat,” manager Rick Renteria said. “It would have been unique to see something like that happen again.

“He’s been swinging the bat very, very well. Great at-bats, great approaches. He’s doing everything he needs to do to give himself a chance.

“He has been a pretty good tear of late.”

Though he’s had his moments, Abreu hasn’t been this good since his rookie season. With two singles already under his belt, Abreu tripled in a run in the sixth inning on Monday, his career-best 74th extra-base hit of the season. An inning later, Abreu doubled with one to give him 75 extra base hits and an unheard of second shot at the cycle about 48 hours after he legged out a triple in the eighth inning to complete the first one.

[MORE: Why teaching phase of White Sox rebuild has Don Cooper excited

About the only question left is whether or not Abreu -- who entered Monday with a 1.208 OPS in 33 September plate appearances -- would have another chance. Rookie Yoan Moncada, who had the first three-hit game of his career, ensured that when he legged out a grounder to second to avoid hitting into an inning-ending double play.

Abreu’s teammates made sure he wasn’t oblivious about the possibility as he headed to the plate.

“I knew because everybody around me was telling me, ‘Go for the homer, go for the homer,’ ” Abreu said through an interpreter.

Abreu said he primarily looked for a changeup from Cahill. He got one on the righty’s second offering and fouled it back. Abreu fouled off two more pitches before he ultimately drew an eight-pitch walk.

The slugger is 10-for-13 with two doubles, two triples, three homers, eight RBIs and two walks in his past three games. He’s hitting .306/.358/.564 with 31 homers and 92 RBIs in 603 plate appearances this season.

“My routine right now is working pretty good,” Abreu said. “I also have to thank the guys because they have been doing their job too and that has helped me perform and get the results I have right now.”

Why White Sox pushed Carson Fulmer's final start back until Saturday

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USA TODAY

Why White Sox pushed Carson Fulmer's final start back until Saturday

The White Sox have pushed back Carson Fulmer’s final start for precautionary reasons even though he’s made progress with his blister.

Fulmer will next pitch on Saturday night at the Cleveland Indians. He exited his previous start on Thursday after only 20 pitches because of a blister on his right index finger. Veteran Chris Volstad will start instead of Fulmer.

But Fulmer said on Monday afternoon he felt ready after a 25-pitch bullpen session on Sunday. He also understood the White Sox might want to let his finger completely heal before what will be his final turn of the 2017 season.

“I was able to go through all my pitches,” Fulmer said before the announcement was made. “Didn’t have any issues. Feels really good.

“Obviously, the decision is up to them. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know if they want to take precautions.

“But I’m all good to go. … Feel great and hopefully this time it doesn’t open up or give me discomfort.”

The White Sox are erring on the side of caution so that Fulmer’s final turn won’t be disrupted. By waiting an extra several days, the club is limiting a reoccurrence of a blister that initially bothered Fulmer near the end of his Sept. 15 start at Detroit.

“Give it a couple of more days to heal up,” manager Rick Renteria said. “It fits. He’ll be able to hopefully get out there and feel comfortable. He threw a side yesterday and it was fine. It’s just making sure he’s able to get through his start.”

After plenty of treatment, Fulmer has improved much over the past few days. Fulmer said the treatment included sealing, solution, super glue and eventually peeling skin.

“New skin is coming in,” Fulmer said. “It’s not very sensitive.

“Feel really good. It’s a lot better than it was last time.”

Confidence continues to build after Lucas Giolito's latest strong start

Confidence continues to build after Lucas Giolito's latest strong start

Nothing is proven, Lucas Giolito will have to come back next season and show he can do this once again. But another huge development in the White Sox rebuild has been the continued development and success of Giolito late in the season.

The young White Sox pitcher added another outstanding performance to the ledger on Sunday afternoon.

Giolito pitched seven sharp innings and helped the White Sox officially avoid 100 losses in an 8-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field. He allowed a run and five hits with five strikeouts and no walks. It’s another step in a nice turnaround for Giolito, who struggled at Triple-A earlier in the year.

“I feel like this is where I can pitch,” Giolito said. “I can pitch deep into games. I wouldn't really say awestruck or anything like that. I’d say that there’s a lot of struggles there earlier this year. I worked through those … I feel like getting the confidence back up, it’s all I really needed to feel comfortable and be ready to go.”

Some of the metrics would suggest Giolito is in line for a dropoff. While his earned-run average is 2.38, his Fielding Independent Pitching is 4.94. His xFIP is a little lower at 4.42. But the elevated numbers are in part due to Giolito not missing as many bats and striking out 6.75 batters per nine innings.

But Giolito’s big-league numbers also come at a time in which he has never pitched more. He has pitched a combined 174 innings this season, which dwarfs his previous high of 136 2/3 innings in 2016.

Despite the workload, the right-hander continues to bring good stuff. He got seven swings and misses and 10 called strikes with his four-seam fastball, which averaged 92.3 mph, according to Baseball Savant.

“He's got angle, he's got height,” manager Rick Renteria said “He's got good angle so that creates, believe or not, some deception and he can ride it up out of the zone. And then he comes out from that angle with the breaking ball or his changeup. So the angle creates some pretty good deception.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: Conditioned for success: Avisail Garcia vows to work even harder in offseason after breakout campaign]

Giolito has filled up the strikezone since he reached the majors partly because of belief in his stuff. He’s thrown strikes on 63.4 percent of his pitches and was even better Sunday with 65 of 98 offerings. The other part of it is trust in his defense, which made several spectacular plays behind him.

Giolito knows this is only the beginning. But he feels good after a stretch in which he has quality starts in five of six games. Over the stretch he has a 1.83 ERA and 25 hits allowed with 12 walks and 30 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings.

“My confidence is there,” Giolito said. “I trust my stuff, I trust my pitches. There are things to work on, things I’m talking to (Don Cooper) about. There’s always stuff to improve, for sure. I’d say that just the confidence and everything is right where it needs to be so I’m going to continue to try and pitch like I am.”