Look at it this way: Tonight's defeat might be the most heartening loss Carlos Rodon will ever take.
Rodon pitched his first complete game, even if the eight-inning kind isn't how he imagined accomplishing it. He needed just 104 pitches over eight innings, allowing four runs and three walks while striking out five.
The only problem? Two of those hits left the yard. Albert Pujols, who couldn't see Rodon's slider in their first meeting, found a fastball to his liking and started the second inning with a solo homer. C.J. Cron hit the other, staying with a decent changeup on the outside corner and clearing the wall in right by a row or two in the seventh inning. Otherwise, Rodon managed the game well, especially considering he didn't have his great wipeout breaking ball.
Carlos Rodon (age 22 y, 250 d): youngest #WhiteSox pitcher with complete game since Mark Buehrle (age 22 y, 160 d) 8/30/2001 (both CG Loss)
— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) August 18, 2015
He just didn't get much help from the bats. The Sox only scored one run, and that's because Johnny Giavotella airmailed a routine 6-4-3 double play ball in the third inning, which allowed Adam Eaton to score.
Otherwise, the couldn't cash in either of the two other good opportunities against Andrew Heaney. In the second, Avisail Garcia led off with a double and Trayce Thompson walked, but Alexei Ramirez popped out, Tyler Saladino flied out, and Tyler Flowers struck out on a foul tip.
A sixth-inning threat also ended with a Flowers strikeout. The Sox loaded the bases after two outs with two singles and a Saladino HBP, only to see Flowers strike out looking. He had a beef, and he was correct to have a beef, as the two strikes he took were both out of the zone. That's pretty much Flowers' life offensively -- can't catch a break, can't make his own.
The Angels bullpen took it from there, with Fernando Salas, Joe Smith and Huston Street each taking an inning. Robin Ventura's decision-making was hard to peg.
He managed the eighth inning aggressively with the righty-killing Smith on the mound, pinch-hitting Adam LaRoche for Garcia and J.B. Shuck for Thompson. Shuck reached on an infield single, but was erased on an Alexei Ramirez double play (Smith is a righty-killer, remember).
Likewise, with a similar-splitting Street on the mound in the ninth, he pinch-hit Carlos Sanchez for Tyler Flowers with one out. It was a good thought that didn't work, as Sanchez struck out swinging. That brought Gordon Beckham to the plate, and even though Flowers was out of the game and Geovany Soto would've had to enter the game regardless, Ventura had the .190-hitting Beckham bat for himself. That's truly baffling, especially since the outcome -- a weak flyout to center -- wasn't.
*Rodon lowered his ERA to 2.80 with Flowers catching (9.12 with Soto).
*Jose Abreu was plunked twice. He took a Heaney slider off the foot, which happens. But then Salas clipped him high and tight with a fastball, which is a problem. Hawk Harrelson and Steve Stone noticed.
*Before his decisive homer, Cron had the coolest hit of the game:
Here's Cron double-hitting that Rodon cutter. Wish the Sox had good slo-mo cameras in their broadcast arsenal. pic.twitter.com/QgBiijNwOB
— South Side Sox (@SouthSideSox) August 18, 2015