DETROIT -- Jose Abreu, All-Star. Jose Abreu, American League Rookie of the Year. Jose Abreu, Major League leader in homers, RBIs and slugging percentage.
But Abreu, AL Most Valuable Player?
That was a topic discussed by the White Sox following their 11-4 drubbing of the division-leading Tigers (57-46) on Tuesday night, propelled by nine runs over the seventh and eighth innings at Comerica Park. Abreu finished a triple short of the cycle, launched his 31st homer during a seven-run seventh and drove in four to give him 83 RBIs.
Abreu extended his hitting streak to 18, equaling Baltimore's Nick Markakis for the longest runs in the AL. He has hit in 36 of 37 games, becoming just the second player in franchise history to put together two hitting streaks of 18 or more games in the same season, joining Eddie Collins (21 and 22) in 1920.
So, how about that MVP consideration for the top player on a fourth-place team, sitting three games under .500 at 52-55? Let's just say he has many friendly supporters.
"We are going to have to continue playing, but he is one of the best players in the league and that's a fact," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "Whether people put him in there, I don't know. I know he's up there with anybody that's running for it."
"He's not Miguel Cabrera, but he has a chance to be something like that," said White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers, whose two hits raised his average to .246. "Every at-bat, every day, the way he works, that's how I imagine Miguel works. It seems like he's got just as much power, and a similar kind of swing."
Abreu extended his hitting streak with a leadoff single in the fourth off of Anibal Sanchez (7-5) and scored one of the two runs during that frame to erase a 2-0 deficit. His homer came on Joakim Soria's 3-1 hanging slider, which he lofted out to left field, and Abreu added a two-run double off of Ian Krol in the eighth down the right-field line. As has been the case since Day 1, Abreu immediately went into the weight room to work out and then received treatment in the trainer's room.
This professionalism, the steadiness of work and the ability to use the whole field in his offensive game has been as impressive as his numbers. Then again, hitting in 36 of 37 games stands as pretty darn special for a rookie or a 10-year-veteran.
"For everyone who thought they'd pound him in and he wouldn't pull anything, he's using the right-field line and hitting homers to right," Ventura said. "That's the biggest thing he's done from the start of the season. We're over the fact it's his first year. He comes every day, prepared, ready to work and it's a very mature approach."
"What I find real impressive is he'll have a couple of at-bats, or a day, where he doesn't look good at all," Flowers said. "But, sure enough, he gets out of those quicker than anybody I've seen. The next day or one or two at-bats later, he's right back driving balls all over the field."
Seven runs in the seventh certainly were not about Abreu alone. The visitors sent 12 men to the plate and scored on eight hits, using the help of two Detroit miscues. Conor Gillaspie had two of his three hits in that frame, and the decision to not bunt with Alejandro De Aza up, runners on first and second and nobody out in a tie game was erased three batters later by Alexei Ramirez's bases-clearing double off of Soria.
Soria faced seven hitters and six reached base via hits, including Adam Dunn's 16th homer following Abreu's blast. That marked the second time the White Sox went back-to-back this season.
"It was a good game until the seventh," Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. "The seventh was ugly."
All this seventh-inning offensive support produced the first July win for Jose Quintana (6-7) after four no-decisions. Quintana allowed seven hits through three innings, but just two runs as the Tigers stranded eight for the game. He gave up nine hits over six innings and reveled in the rare offensive outburst with him in the game.
"I said last time, one day [the run support] would change. That day is today," Quintana said. "I'm really happy. Every time I try to do the best for me and for the team and get the chance to win."
Tuesday's victory lifted the White Sox to 4-1 on their seven-game AL Central road trip, while the Tigers lost their fourth straight. Abreu raised his average to .299, adding another chip to the MVP race with players such as the Angels' Mike Trout and Cabrera, to name a few.
"Him and Miguel out there in the same field is pretty neat to watch," Flowers said. "He doesn't seem to get fooled too often. He's a complete hitter."