Jose Abreu made MLB history on Friday night with a walk-off grand slam to lead the Chicago White Sox to their 9-6 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays and in the process he became the highest rookie home run scorer in the month of April.
The White Sox pulled the game to within one with two outs in the ninth innings when Abreu stepped up to the plate. With all bases loaded, the crowd sensed something big was about to happen.
Abreu duly delivered and smashed a Grant Balfour fastball over right field to spark the grand slam walk-off and his second homer of the night. The 27-year-old was mobbed by his team as he strolled home under the Chicago lights.
The grand slam home run was the Cuban’s ninth of the month which is the most in April by a rookie in Major League history. Albert Pujols previously shared the record in April 2001 with eight and recently hit his 500th home run for his current team, the Los Angeles Angels.
Carlos Delgado and Kent Hrbek had also hit eight homers in April when playing as rookies.
Abreu’s teammate, outfielder Adam Eaton, added: “Yeah, it’s impressive. The proof’s in the pudding, I believe. He works his butt off every day, he comes in here, does what he needs to do to get ready and he goes out there and puts everything out on the field.
“It’s amazing, you feel like the whole place could kind of feel it. When he got up, it was like ‘Uh-oh something great’s going to happen.”
After playing in the Cuban league since 2007, Abreu moved to the Dominican Republic to pursue a career in MLB. The 27-year-old became a free agent back in October last year and was picked up by Chicago for a six-year contract worth $68 million.
Abreu made his debut at the White Sox’s home opener on March 31 and the Cuban has quickly become a star. In total, Abreu has 27 RBI, 18 runs in total (including the nine homers) and a whopping slugging percentage of .632.
The first baseman is a real credit to the White Sox’s start to the season. It was their 12th win of the season, taking the record to 12-12 and a third of their wins have come from walk-offs.
Friday night’s victory gave Chicago a 1-0 lead in the four game series against the Rays, but that was levelled over the weekend as the Rays picked up a 4-0 win.
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