Anatomy of an at-bat: Abreu vs. Perkins

Bottom of the ninth, Saturday night at U.S. Cellular Field. Minnesota leads, 6-5.

Glen Perkins and his 33 saves in the game, looking for his 34th, while top American League Rookie of the Year candidate Jose Abreu steps to the plate.

What resulted was a 14-pitch battle, ending with Abreu drawing a leadoff walk, and followed one out later by Dayan Viciedo launching a walk-off homer. It showed Abreu, the dialed in hitter, better than any 400-foot  blast could illustrate.

“That’s tough when you start an inning out like that,” Perkins said. “I’m trying to get out of there as quick as I can and the first guy I see is 14 pitches and I don’t get him out.”

The at-bat began with six straight fastballs from Perkins, hitting either 94 or 95. Abreu took two outside the zone, swung and missed at one and fouled off the other three. Perkins went to three sliders and then returned to two fastballs, all of which were fouled off.

“It really is having a reference point, knowing how he has pitched us in the past,” said Abreu on Sunday, through interpreter and White Sox director of public relations Lou Hernandez. “How he has approached us in the past, taking everything into consideration, whether it’s video or just the knowledge I had of his pitches and just trying to have the best at-bat.”

Perkins missed with a slider, before Abreu fouled off another fastball. On pitch No. 14, Abreu took a fastball away to reach first. Viciedo battled through seven pitches of his own, benefiting from all the pitches viewed during Abreu’s at-bat, before crushing a fastball on pitch eight that caught too much of the plate.

“I really feel that was my best at-bat of the day, of the two games,” Abreu said. “I went into that at-bat knowing and believing that we need to tie this game, that we need people on base, so my whole process there was try to look for the right pitches, try to fight as much as I can and try to get myself on base.”

White Sox captain Paul Konerko referred to Abreu as a thinking-man’s hitter, and that he was a better hitter than a power hitter … and he’s a pretty accomplished power hitter, having tied Ron Kittle’s single-season White Sox rookie homer record of 35 with an 0-2 connection off of Perkins on Sunday.

“He knows the situations and knows what is called for at those times,” said Konerko of Abreu. “I love it because I feel like I’ve tried to play my whole career like that, where you have these different moments where … two outs and nobody on in the third inning, you let it fly and maybe you strike out.

“You have a guy on third and less than two outs, you know how to hit a ground ball to the infield and get this guy in. You have all these different types of gears in your swing. At least you hope you do.”

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