- Doug Padilla, ESPN Staff Writer
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How it happened: Jose Abreu hit a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning for the game-ending victory. The White Sox rallied for five runs in the ninth inning after Matt Lindstrom gave up two in the top of the ninth to give the Rays a 6-4 lead. White Sox pitchers gave up 11 walks, five to Matt Joyce alone. Abreu hit his first home run of the night in the third inning for his third multihomer game in the season's opening month. He also set the MLB rookie record for home runs in the opening month of the season. White Sox rookie starter Erik Johnson lasted just 1 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on four hits and four walks. Other White Sox pitchers to give up walks: Jake Petricka (three), Zach Putnam (two) and Lindstrom (two).
What it means: The White Sox have become equal parts must-see and can't-bear-to-watch at the same time. The offense that led the AL in OPS at the start of the night continues to reach amazing heights behind the production of Abreu, Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo. The pitching, however, continues to have its issues with multiple underperformers, as well as injuries. Johnson's 15 walks lead the team, while John Danks has 13.
Outside the box: Albert Pujols (2001), Carlos Delgado (1994) and Kent Hrbek (1982) all had eight home runs in the opening month as rookies, but Abreu passed them all on one night with his eighth and ninth home runs. And Abreu still has five more games remaining to pad the record before May starts. Abreu also tied Pujols' record for 27 RBIs in the first month of the season.
Off beat: The White Sox's struggles to find the strike zone were so bad in the early going that, at one point, Johnson and Petricka had combined to walk six batters while recording six outs. The White Sox now have 114 walks in 24 games, an average of 4.75 per game. For some perspective, they had 10 more walks than the next closest team, and that was before they gave up 11 free passes Friday.
Up next: The White Sox will send left-hander John Danks (2-0, 2.84 ERA) to the mound against Tampa Bay in the second game of the three-game series. The Rays will counter with left-hander Cesar Ramos (0-1, 4.91) in the 6:10 p.m. start from U.S. Cellular Field.