Carlos Rodon didn't get a lot of help from his defense during his last start on July 5 against the Baltimore Orioles . Conor Gillaspie's double error and a Carlos Sanchez bobble didn't help the rookie to pitch over his inconsistent command in the 9-1 loss.
Five days later? Polar opposite, as the defense turned five double plays to shut down the Chicago Cubs, 1-0.
White Sox fans should know by now to expect erratic command from Rodon as he is chugging along in his first season in the big leagues. For the second time this season, Rodon walked six batters, giving him five outings with four or more walks in his 11 starts. However, the lack of command kept Cubs hitters off-balance as they could only muster two hits off the southpaw (one by the pitcher, Kyle Hendricks), and Rodon balanced the walks by striking out six batters.
Of course, what helped Rodon put up zeroes on the center field scoreboard out in the Wrigley Field bleachers was the help from his defense.
First inning: Kris Bryant hits into a 4-6-3 double play
Second inning: Starlin Castro hits into a 6-4-3 double play that will make its way on Baseball Tonight:
Third inning: With runners on first and second, Avisail Garcia made a shoestring catch off Dexter Fowler's liner in right field, but the runners on base thought he trapped the ball and advanced anyway. Garcia tried to double off Addison Russell, but made an errant throw past Jose Abreu at first that almost made its way to the White Sox dugout. Luckily, Kyle Hendricks refused to go back to second. Instead, he stood on third base as Tyler Flowers collected the ball and threw the ball to Alexei Ramirez, who was covering second. After a quick call to New York, replay confirmed that Garcia made the catch and the White Sox pulled off the ol' 9-2-4 double play.
Fourth inning: Rodon walked Anthony Rizzo for the second time (he presented a problem for Rodon by standing on top of the plate). Bryant almost hit into his second double play of the game but was able to beat out Carlos Sanchez's throw back to first. Jorge Soler almost took Rodon's hand off with a sharp liner back up the middle, but the deflection was picked up by Ramirez so Bryant could not advance to third. The All-Star rookie tried to get there on his own with a steal attempt, but Flowers was able to complete the SHOTHO by nailing Bryant at third.
Fifth inning: Rodon's first three-up/three-down. Finally.
In the sixth inning, Rodon began to show some fatigue as he was having difficulty locating his fastball. With two outs on runners on first and second thanks to walks, pitching coach Don Cooper visited the mound. The visit seemed much longer than normal and on the White Sox television broadcast, Steve Stone mentioned that Cooper could be asking about Rodon's blistered finger and if he could make it past one more batter. Unfortunately, the camera angle had the back of Cooper's head, so there's no way of lip-reading of what he was saying. Whatever it was, it ended up working out for the Sox as Soler's liner to the left side was snagged by Tyler Saladino.
While it was an adventure that turned into a positive outcome, the same can't be said for the White Sox's offense most of the afternoon.
Hendricks has been red-hot lately, as he hasn't given up an run in his last three starts (spanning 19 1/3 innings). Today, he used the changeup to stymie the White Sox lineup. Jose Abreu was able to extend his hitting streak to 12 games with an infield single and Carlos Sanchez collected two hits off Hendricks. Other than that, it was pretty silent on the northern front for the Sox until the eighth inning.
Pinch-hitting for the pitcher's spot, Emilio Bonifacio stepped in looking to bunt his way on. On a 1-1 slider by Hector Rondon, Bonifacio was hit in the left shin as he was moving up in the batter's box for a drag bunt. The third base umpire called no swing, which allowed Bonifacio to take first base with a HBP.
Having gone 0-for-4 in his previous stolen-base attempts, Bonifacio surprised and delighted Sox fans by swiping his first base. Many thanks to Rondon, who was slow to the plate, and catcher Taylor Teagarden couldn't make up the lost time with the throw. With Eaton at bat and a runner on second with no outs, the leadoff hitter demonstrated how that extra bunting practice paid off this week by laying down a beauty to move Bonifacio to third base.
If Jose Abreu were still batting in the second hole instead of Saladino making this big league debut there, the White Sox would be right where they wanted to be. Sure, the Cubs probably would have walked Abreu, but the way Melky Cabrera has been hitting, it would open up the possibilities for the Sox to score multiple runs. But with Saladino there, Ventura instead had to use J.B. Shuck off the bench.
Shuck, who was 5 for 17 as a pinch hitter, got the job done by hitting a sacrifice fly to left field, driving in the only run of the game.
- This is how the game ended:
- The bullpen was pretty great, too: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K. David Robertson picked up his 19th save of the season and Jake Petricka got his third win of 2015.
- 41,580 paid to watch the first game of this series. It'll be fun to see the attendance numbers the rest of the weekend, especially tomorrow's Jon Lester vs. The Condor.