With the Tigers getting poleaxed by Royals on their own field at the time of this writing, the Indians just needed a victory against the deeply scuffling White Sox to be celebrating an AL Central title in their clubhouse Sunday afternoon. Which…wouldn’t be the end of the world. It’s not like the White Sox have skin in the game at this point, the Tigers game started well after this one and the Indians were never going to get to celebrate on the field, but uh, maybe it would be nice to not be a footnote to history? Or remembered at all? Maybe just let this season slink away into the shadows and out of our memories, and we can start 2017 curiously expecting good things again.
1. To that end, Carlos Rodon was the most helpful contributor, shrugging off a pair of bad outings to reel off his best start of the year. Rodon’s fastball was mid-to-high 90s all day with a hard wipeout slider, and he stayed strong through the end, ratcheting up his velocity down the stretch and striking out 11 over a season-high eight shutout innings. The Indians did not collect their first hit on Rodon–one of two singles all day–until the fifth, but it was an inning earlier where it became pretty clear they were out of luck. With a runner on (Rodon walked three on the day), Rodon set up Cleveland masher Mike Napoli with hard fastballs that dotted the edges of each side of the plate before twirling a 88 mph slider that the Indians’ first baseman couldn’t check up on. When he can command both sides of the plate and bust out his best slider on demand, it’s pretty hard on the opposition. Rodon recorded five of his last six outs by strikeout.
2. Sox hitting didn’t exactly overwhelm Indians starter Josh Tomlin, but they met the standard of producing enough to win a shutout. Todd Frazier managed to cause plenty of chaos with…his speed, of course. He led off the fifth with a single and stole second base with his patented walking lead with two outs. With the moment falling on Carlos Sanchez, the second baseman continued to shake off his slow start to the season and went with the pitch to guide a RBI single to left. Frazier stole his second base of the day to help add an insurance run in the ninth, taking off after a leadoff walk and scooting to third after the throw bounced away. Omar Narvaez‘s second hit of the day–and his first to leave the infield–plated Frazier to put the Sox up 3-0.
3. Narvaez also played a part in the Sox bizarre rally in the seventh, led off by Justin Morneau busting it down the line on a grounder to reach on a Michael Martinez throwing error. Avisail Garcia rolled a grounder through the middle of the infield for a single, and Narvaez loaded the bases by tapping an infield single past the reach of Tomlin and too far in front of Martinez to draw a throw. Sanchez didn’t quite match his efforts from the fifth, but his shallow flare to center scored pinch-runner J.B. Shuck on a sacrifice fly. Rajai Davis‘ throw from center beat Shuck, Chris Gimenez‘s tag at the plate beat Shuck, but the ball caromed–seemingly off Shuck’s helmet–down the first base line and Shuck was ruled safe.
4. Snuck into the back of this game was David Robertson striking out the side for a perfect ninth inning, giving Sox pitching 14 strikeouts for the day. Robertson’s ERA is down to 3.50 for the season. He’s allowed one earned run all month.
— Jose Abreu (@79JoseAbreu) September 25, 2016
Team Record: 74-81
Next game is Monday vs. Tampa Bay at 7:10pm CT on CSN+
Lead Image Credit: Ken Blaze // USA Today Sports Images