Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu hit his eighth and ninth home runs of the season in Friday's 9-6 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, setting an all-time rookie record for most homers before the beginning of May, per ESPN Stats & Info.
Not only did the Cuban rookie make history, but his second long ball of the game was a walk-off grand slam in the ninth inning that turned a 6-5 deficit into a 9-6 victory. Tampa Bay closer Grant Balfour, a notorious hothead, was the unfortunate victim of Abreu's heroics. Actually, the word "unfortunate" is questionable in this scenario, as Balfour might not be able to throw a worse pitch if he tried.
The first homer was a bit more ordinary, as Abreu hit a solo blast off Chris Archer in the bottom of the third after knocking home a run with a single in the first. For the day, he went 3-for-5 with two homers, two runs and six RBI.
Now sitting at nine home runs through 24 games, Abreu is tied with Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols for the major league lead heading into Saturday's games. Coincidentally, Pujols—along with Kent Hrbek and Carlos Delgado—was the previous record holder for rookie home runs (eight) before the beginning of May, per George Castle of The Times of Northwest Indiana.
If Abreu has his sights on the season-long rookie home run record, he's looking at a nearly impossible task. Mark McGwire smashed an incredible 49 homers for the Oakland Athletics in 1987, and no other rookie has ever hit more than 38, per the Baseball Almanac.
Of course, as a 243-pound 27-year-old with significant experience playing professionally in Cuba, Abreu is far from your typical rookie.