The White Sox didn't have a comeback story in them tonight, but maybe this is the start of one for Adam LaRoche.
LaRoche collected more hits tonight (four) than he did over his last seven starts (three, in 30 plate appearances), and he delivered the final one -- an RBI single -- as a pitcher hitting for himself.
Saved for posterity. pic.twitter.com/M342Z0hNQA— South Side Sox (@SouthSideSox) August 1, 2015
Robin Ventura may not have a whole lot of whimsy in him, but he isn't afraid to let the occasional position player pitch in a blowout. Tonight, it was LaRoche's turn, and all he did was throw a 1-2-3 inning.
And it was an absolute delight.
He retired Stephen Drew on three 80-mph fastballs (popout), then ramped it up to 85 mph after a 71-mph offspeed pitch to get John Ryan Murphy to ground out.
With two outs and the bases empty, LaRoche could afford to step up the showmanship against Brendan Ryan. He started with two loopers that resembled slow curveballs. Both were 63 mph, and the second one found the zone, after which both LaRoche and Ryan smiled. Two fastballs yielded the same result for a 2-2 count.
LaRoche's father, Dave, was a left-handed relief pitcher, so it made sense that Adam would rip a page from Dad's playbook by throwing Ryan a 50-mph LaLob:
Ryan didn't offer at the younger LaRoche's eephus, but it worked as a setup pitch nevertheless. With a full count, LaRoche reached back and blew an 85 mph fastball past Ryan's bat for an inning-ending strikeout.
LaRoche was by far the most effective pitcher the White Sox used tonight, but considering Philip Humber's career crashed to a halt after a ninth-inning strikeout of Ryan, perhaps LaRoche should stop at one.
While it was a game LaRoche will remember, it's one Carlos Rodon will want to forget.
Rodon gave up eight runs over three innings, including a grand slam to Mark Teixeira in the second inning that gave the Yankees a quick 6-0 lead. He couldn't find his release point, he couldn't get the corners, and he didn't have luck on his side either.
His night came to a close two batters into the fourth inning, and in fitting fashion. He gave up a double to Chris Young because Adam Eaton didn't take a deep-enough angle, then threw two wild pitches to bring Young home, which were part of an eventual walk to Alex Rodriguez that brought Rodon's misery to an end. Matt Albers wasn't any better, and the Yankees put up another five-spot to really make this a ridiculous game.
Which is a shame, because the White Sox offense had a respectable night. Nathan Eovaldi looked hard to handle at the start, but Jose Abreu put the Sox on the board with a two-run homer in the third inning, and White Sox hitters made him throw 118 pitches over 5⅔ innings. They scored six runs on 13 hits, six of which went for extra bases.
Besides LaRoche's four hits, Eaton continued to boost his OBP with a single, double and a walk. Melky Cabrera resumed hitting RBI singles, and even J.B. Shuck came off the bench to deliver a triple and score a run. While the White Sox pitchers labored for 219 pitches, the Yankees had to throw 192 themselves.
Perhaps this could have been a game if Rodon could've posted a zero after Abreu's homer cut the New York lead to 6-2. Instead, we'll have to settle for personal victories. It was LaRoche's night, and since the Sox couldn't find a deal to their liking at the deadline, the Sox will need more of them.
*Shuck hustled his way around the bases, hitting a triple and scoring on a wild pitch. His reward? A strained left hamstring. Leury Garcia ended up playing left field after coming off the bench for Alexei Ramirez.
*While Garcia moved from short to left, Tyler Saladino moved from third to first to shortstop over the course of the game. Tyler Flowers played first as Ventura truly emptied the bench.
*LaRoche dusted himself off, but Avisail Garcia continues to struggle. He went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts.