CHICAGO -- A smile spread across Jose Abreu's face shortly after he made contact with a 0-2 fastball from Giants reliever Roberto Gomez in the bottom of the eighth inning during Saturday's 13-1 White Sox victory at Guaranteed Rate Field.
The White Sox first baseman needed a triple to complete the sixth cycle in franchise history. So the big man had one thought in his mind as the ball rolled toward the right-center field wall: get to third base.
"I was thinking the same thing that Avi [Garcia] told me seconds before, to hit the ball to the alley," said Abreu after completing the first White Sox cycle since Jose Valentin on April 27, 2000 against Baltimore. "I hit the ball to the alley and I was just thinking of the triple."
"Again, those things don't happen very often," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "But a big man like that, when it happens for something like that to finish it off with a triple, it's pretty exciting."
Abreu joined Valentin, Ray Schalk (June 22, 1922), Jack Brohamer (September 24, 1977), Carlton Fisk (May 16, 1984) and Chris Singleton (July 6, 1999) as the only White Sox players to hit for the cycle. Abreu went from home to third in 11.76 seconds, according to Statcast™, which is his fastest time since Statcast™ debuted in 2015.
His sprint speed was 27.9 ft/sec, faster than his 26.9 ft/sec average for the season. Abreu reached third after fouling a pitch off of his left shin in the same at-bat. But when Renteria jokingly tried to take the bat away as he checked on him, Abreu made it clear he was staying in the game.
Jeff Samardzija allowed Abreu's homer and double. Abreu added a single in the seventh.
"There's no evolving. He's always been an amazing hitter," said Samardzija of his former teammate. "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. I respect Abreu up there amongst some other guys in this league."
"My teammates were part of it, too," Abreu said. "To have the opportunity to share that moment with them was special. I want to thank all of them and all the other guys that aren't here today but that played with me at some point."
Tim Anderson finished a double short of the cycle, striking out in the eighth in what could have been a two-cycle inning. Yolmer Sanchez also finished a double short but never got that last at-bat to complete it.
Sanchez did have fun mimicking Abreu's baserunning in the dugout, especially when Abreu windmilled his arms a bit to maintain his balance as he went from second to third. But he stayed on his feet to make history.
"My legs weren't responding. But I'm a warrior," said a smiling Abreu. "I have to fight through that and I did it."
"He's unbelievable. He's unreal. He's one of the best teammates I've been around," White Sox winning pitcher James Shields said. "He comes to the park to play every day. He brings a great attitude every single day, and I love it."