The White Sox came into Friday’s game with a 67-72 record and completely out of the playoff picture. The Royals were 72-67 and barely holding onto hope of making the playoffs to defend their World Series Championship. As the season winds down, the 3.5 games and three teams that separate the Royals from the playoffs seem to be more and more insurmountable. With that in mind, they arrived Chicago for a three-game series against a team they have had a good amount of success against of recent. This season alone the Royals hold a 9-3 record against Sox, their best winning percentage against any team this season.
In a battle of young promising pitchers, the White Sox had Carlos Rodon on the mound while the Royals sent out Yordano Ventura. Ventura has a bad reputation for causing violence on the field, but the most violent thing on the field Friday night was Carlos Rodon‘s slider.
1. Rodon pitched another fantastic game, continuing the success that he’s seen since the start of August. A high pitch count caused him to leave after six innings, but in those six innings he did plenty of damage. Rodon gave up two runs in the top of the first inning on two hits and error, but he struck out two to minimize damage and settled in nicely afterward. His final line was 6 IP with 1 ER, 2 BB, and a season-high 9 K, capped off by a bases loaded strikeout of Paulo Orlando to end the sixth. Rodon had all three pitches working well, and his comfort with Omar Narvaez behind the plate becomes more and more apparent with each start. He now holds a 3.80 ERA on the season and 2.66 ERA in the second half.
2. Adam Eaton got the game off to a good start with a leadoff double in the White Sox half of the first. He eventually came around to score on a Melky Cabrera sacrifice fly. He doubled again in the fifth and came around to score once more thanks to Cabrera, who singled him home to right. Eaton remains one of just three qualified White Sox hitters with a wRC+ above 100 (Jose Abreu and Cabrera are the other two).
3. Tyler Saladino hit last in the lineup, but was a huge contributor to the Sox offense in this game. He went 3-for-4, scored to tie game at 2-2 in the third, and drove in two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth. His contributions out of a utility role, as well as in the wake of Brett Lawrie‘s never-ending hamstring injury have been great for the White Sox. He’s proven his ability to be an incredibly useful player off the bench, which could come in handy if the White Sox become playoff contenders in the near future.
4. With neither David Robertson or Nate Jones likely making an appearance in this game due to heavy workloads, the Sox were forced to turn to their other arms in the bullpen. Chris Beck, Dan Jennings, and Tommy Kahnle all combined for three scoreless innings. Kahnle came in to finish the game in the 9th after the White Sox added two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth to push the game to 7-2. Had the Sox not scored those runs, perhaps we would have seen Matt Albers get the first save of his career. Unfortunately, that will be saved for another day.
5. The White Sox offense has now scored seven runs in back to back games. It’s relatively meaningless, especially for a team well out of the playoff race in 2016, but it’s always good to see this offense produce. All of this will be forgotten, of course, when they inevitably go through a stretch where they struggle to score even at all. It is, however, a good sign to see players that will return in 2017 like Abreu, Saladino and Eaton have strong finishes to their seasons. Anything that may propel the White Sox roster is 2017–whatever it may look like–toward more wins is about as much optimism as can be found in a September game from a team that likely won’t win much more than 75 games.
Team Record: 68-72
Next game is Saturday vs. Kansas City at 6:10pm CT on CSN
Lead Image Credit: Mike Dinovo // USA Today Sports Images