Enough's enough: Abreu snaps after being hit by another pitch in Sox win
Before going to the playoffs in 2000, the White Sox and Tigers went at each other at erstwhile Comiskey Park II.
It was a nasty brawl, and there were 16 suspensions issued after the two teams exchanged punches, kicks and a variety of cheap shots.
History did not repeat itself Monday at Comerica Park in Detroit, but tempers did flare and both benches cleared in the postseason-bound Sox's 8-7 win over the Tigers.
Jose Abreu, typically mild-mannered to a fault, was the focal point of the scrap.
With one out in the ninth inning, the White Sox's star first baseman was hit on the left elbow by an 0-2 fastball from reliever Alex Lange that was clocked at 97 mph.
Abreu wasn't happy after being drilled for the 21st time this season, and the first by a Detroit pitcher.
He seemingly wasn't overly upset, either, and Abreu trotted to first base already sporting a noticeable bruise on the elbow.
With Yasmani Grandal at the plate, Abreu ran to second base on a Lange pitch that got past Tigers catcher Eric Haase.
His slide into the bag was hard, but clean, and an angry Abreu got to his feet and had an exchange with shortstop Niko Goodrum after being called out.
"See when they have issues when somebody plays aggressively, but not when they pitch aggressively," Sox manager Tony La Russa said. "And beyond the limits. The game is played two ways, not just one way."
Abreu cooled off a bit after having words with Goodrum, but he heated up again when Lange joined the scrum.
Teammate Gavin Sheets likely helped the two sides avoid a brawl by pulling Abreu away from the pack.
Lange said he didn't intentionally try to hit Abreu.
"He's leaning out over the plate," the reliever said. "He sees I'm working away. Our report says that we finish him up and in. That's where I was going. Obviously, it wasn't intentional. We're competing, he's competing.
"I understand why he's upset. He got hit. Obviously it wasn't intentional, but I'm pitching to my report. I'm going in and I'm trying to get him out."
Abreu understands opposing pitchers have jobs to do and "families to feed," as he's put it. He is typically tolerant to a fault, and the American League's reigning MVP even hugged James Karinchak after the Indians reliever hit him in the head with a 96-mph fastball in late July.
It was only a matter of time before Abreu snapped, and Monday was the day.
"That's a lot of times getting hit on the body," said Dallas Keuchel, who started for the White Sox in Monday's makeup game. "I, myself, have hit Pito (Abreu) before and it's not the best feeling in the world. He is a large human being. We have to protect our guys. He is no different.
"If I was pitching tomorrow, I would stick up for Pito."
The Sox close out the regular season with three games against Detroit at Guaranteed Rate Field this weekend, and Keuchel should get one of the starts.
Whether or not the White Sox retaliate remains to be seen, but Tigers manager A.J. Hinch echoed Lange after Detroit made a blowout game close with 5 runs in the eighth inning.
"Let me just set the record straight, there's no reason to hit Jose Abreu, really, ever," Hinch said. "I mean, he does everything right on the field. He had nothing to do with anything. We had two strikes on him. If you throw the ball out over the plate, he destroys you. So we threw it inside. It hit him.
"It hurts, 97 (mph) at the elbow hurts. At this time of the season, we want no part of anybody on the other side getting hurt. We're going to compete and play hard and try to pitch them tough, but there's no reason to hit him."