A game that started off well enough ended in familiar fashion; a walkoff loss. The White Sox have now lost nine games via walkoff, tying them for most in all of baseball.
1. Carlos Rodon leaned on the double play ball to get him through his night, watching the defense behind him help out four times by retiring two for the price of one. He struck out five and for the first time this season didn’t walk a single batter. Though ball-in-play was a recipe for success on the night, Rodon’s finish in the sixth showed more of what we’ve seen through the rest of the year.
With runners on second and third, the Sox lead threatened, Rodon reached back and attacked Mike Napoli with a 95 mph fastball, setting up a slider to strike him out. Then the control departed, and the only thing that saved giving up his first walk of the game was hitting Carlos Santana with ball four, which also happened to load the bases. Jose Ramirez, who came into the night carrying an inexplicable .937 OPS at Progressive Field this year, rolled one to Tim Anderson’s right. Anderson gloved it, made a high, looping throw that looked sure to take Abreu off the bag, but he somehow managed to stay connected and end the Indians threat to blow the inning, and the game wide open.
Rodon finished 2015 with a stretch of eight consecutive quality starts, beginning in mid-August. After tonight’s six inning outing, we sit in mid-August having watched him notch three-straight. Finishing out useless seasons strong might be frustrating, but it’s better than the alternative of watching a once-prized prospect wither and die.
Chris Beck replaced Rodon to begin the seventh. He was able to record a pair of outs, but he also surrendered a pair of doubles, and exited with the tying run in scoring position. Nate Jones was able to retain the lead through the inning, but created a jam of his own in eighth which he was unable to extricate himself from without allowing Cleveland to tie it up. Jacob Turner, tasked with trying to extend things to extras in the ninth, immediately allowed a double to Abraham Almonte. Almonte moved into third by way of Dioner Navarro — who came in to pinch hit for Narvaez the inning prior –allowing passed ball. From there a simple sacrifice fly from Tyler Naquin was enough to end it.
2. Danny Salazar hadn’t pitched since the first day of August, when he got torched for six runs and two innings and found himself on the DL with right elbow inflammation afterward. This outing didn’t yield much better results. He faced seven batters, walking three of them, and surrendered three runs in his only inning of work. After being lifted from the game, Salazar could be found in the bullpen throwing, a rehab start against the White Sox having gone awry.
Kyle Crockett replaced Salazar and had himself a 1-2-3 inning. His appearance having the extra utility of giving enough time for Mike Clevinger to get ready. Clevinger would have been up in the rotation for this game if Salazar had not temporarily bumped him, and he turned in four innings of two-hit, one-run ball, which was enough to keep the Indians in the game until Rodon began to waver.
3. After capitalizing on Salazar’s control issues in the opening frame, the Sox offense took a nap. Outside of a Melky Cabrera walk to lead off the 3rd, nobody reached again until, naturally, Jose Abreu grabbed himself an infield single. A would-be insurance run was added in the 7th by combination of Anderson and Omar Narvaez, but this was not a night that the Sox were looking to score multiple runs against any pitcher not trying to work his way back from injury.
4. After Anderson doubled to lead off the 7th inning, J.B. Schuck was called upon to sacrifice him over third. Strategy questions aside, what created this situation is Narvaez’s ability to produce quality at-bats. Ventura felt confident that a runner on third with one out was a situation that would net a run with Narvaez at the plate. It did, though with the single he stroked Anderson would have scored either way. The White Sox catcher joins Justin Morneau — who drove in all three first inning runs — as the only Sox players with more than 30 plate appearances to have an OPS over .800. File “The White Sox notch another terrible season but a bright spot is Justin Morneau” under things you never thought you’d read.
5. The White Sox have been one of the worst teams in all of the majors since the All-Star break, but they managed a few wins on this road trip, and now head home to face an Oakland Athletics team that is currently riding a five-game losing streak.
Lead Photo Credit: David Richard – USA Today Sports Images