A game that should have been easily won was not, and the Sox found yet another way to break the hearts of the poor desolate souls who follow them. The White Sox are now 4-13 in their last 17 games. Fittingly, the game that spurred the current apocalyptic slide saw the bullpen cough up a five run lead. Today they outdid themselves with a seven run blowup in the bottom of the ninth to hand the Royals the win.
1. Entering the bottom of the 9th inning with a six run lead seems like a good enough time to let your closer get some work in, but the story was quite different for David Robertson today. After a strikeout looking to Paolo Orlando to lead off the frame, everything hit the fan. A single to Cheslor Cuthbert started a the rally and was followed up by a long fly ball that Eaton lost in the sun and ended up as a double off the wall. After back to back walks scored the Royals’ second run, Whit Merrifield lanced a likely game ending double play ball off of Robertson’s glove for two more runs. Lorenzo Cain followed with a fielder’s choice ground out that was almost but not quite another game ending double play. A Hosmer double would chase Robertson and bring Tommy Kahnle into a game that Tommy Kahnle was neither expecting nor equipped to handle. A quick double tied the game, and the clearly shaky Kahnle ended up intentionally walking consecutive batters before giving up a walk off single under the glove of a diving Jose Abreu. A series of bad bounces, bad plays, and bad pitches led to a predictable result.
2. However, for 8.5 innings, things looked downright rosy! “Vaunted” and “nightmare inducing” are not commonplace terms when describing the bottom third of the White Sox lineup, but they did the heavy lifting against Yordano Ventura. The combination of Alex Avila, Avisail Garcia, and Tyler Saladino punished Ventura by going five for nine with two home runs, a double, five runs, and six RBI.
A trio of two out flares in the 2nd put the White Sox ahead 1-0 before Tyler Saladino yanked a hanging curveball into the Royals’ baby blue bullpen. Two innings later Avisail Garcia did that “one thing he does right-ish” and crushed a hanging changeup 420+ feet into the fountain in left. Yordano Ventura seems unaware of the scouting report that all other teams have on Avi’s inability to hit elite velocity, and he was punished for it. For a guy who can run it up in the high 90s, Ventura’s game plan seemed overly dependent on his off-speed stuff and it did not play well.
3. Rodon had his second consecutive pairing with the Royals and turned in a one run start that was decidedly more stressful than the box score would have you believe. He needed 105 pitches to get through five innings and recorded just a single 1-2-3 inning. He survived by the skin of his teeth, escaping a bases loaded jam in the 2nd and stranding runners at second and third in the 5th. It was a game that could have turned out markedly different if the typical Royals magic had peeked out earlier on.
4. This was also the second consecutive go-round for Rodon with Alex Avila. The pairing with Avila did not do wonders for his command. Both pitchers benefited from a generous strike zone from home plate umpire Will Little, but Rodon was missing his spots too often to get Royals’ hitters to chase his slider out of the zone. The end result was a five inning, two walk, three strikeout performance that continued the short trend of positive starts that have brought his ERA back to a more reasonable 4.24. If one could remove the disastrous outing in Los Angeles and the recent pummeling in Texas, Rodon would be looking at a much prettier stat card – 2.86 ERA, 1.25 WHIP. Unfortunately, that’s not how baseball works.
5. Speaking of Alex “Soft Hands” Avila, the backstop had rough day behind the plate. Early on he seemed to be having trouble with Rodon’s stuff and dropped several pitches throughout the effort. He allowed two more stolen bases bringing his 2016 record for throwing out batters to 1 for 11. In the nightmare ninth, he dropped a ball on an intentional walk allowing a runner to advance to third. To add insult to injury, he twice took shots to the back of the head on follow-throughs. For catchers that haven’t already missed time with concussions, this would be less of an issue. Unfortunately that does not apply to Alex Avila.
6. And finally, the Royals string of disastrous results on foul pops continued with Salvador Perez and Chelsor Cuthbert colliding on a ball in the top of the ninth. After laying on the ground in visible pain for several minutes, Perez was able to walk off the field with assistance from the trainers. This is the continuation of a theme for a team who has already lost two of their best players (Gordon and Moustakas) on foul pops.
Team Record: 27-23
Next game is Sunday at Kansas City at 1:15 p.m. CT
Lead Photo Credit: John Rieger