For a couple of below-.500 teams, September games don't offer much meaning.
For players on those below-.500 teams, some of these games mean everything.
Enter Rob Brantly. The White Sox' third catcher was No. 1 on the call sheet tonight, as he hit a three-run homer off Carlos Carrasco while catching seven innings of one-run ball by Carlos Rodon for a satisfying victory.
Brantly was 0-for-4 in his first two games in a White Sox uniform, but he made his first hit count. Avisail Garcia and Trayce Thompson strung together one-out singles to the left side to bring Brantly to the plate. Brantly must have been sitting fastball on the first pitch, because Carrasco came at him with a 97-mph heater, and Brantly knocked it into the visitors' bullpen in right for a 3-0 lead. (It was also his first MLB hit since Sept. 12, 2013.)
From there, the White Sox kept finding ways to add on. Jose Abreu hit a home run to due left field for the first time since May 26 (or 18 homers ago), which counted for a solo shot off Carrasco in the fourth. After Mike Aviles dinged Rodon for a RBI single with two outs in the top of the fifth, Jose Abreu followed an Alexei Ramirez leadoff double with a single to right to restore the four-run lead.
In the seventh, it was Trayce Thompson's turn. Neither Melky Cabrera nor Garcia could convert a prime scoring situation (runners on second and third, nobody out), but Thompson delivered by slashing a single past third baseman Giovanny Urshela to score both runners -- and just before Thompson was thrown out at second by Michael Brantley.
Those insurance runs came in handy, as Nate Jones gave up a two-run homer in the eighth, and Zach Duke surrendered a solo homer in the ninth, and yet the Indians never really threatened.
Rodon improved to over .500 with a praiseworthy outing -- and one without Tyler Flowers catching, too. He limited the Indians to the one run over five hits and a walk over seven innings while striking out eight. He benefited from Carlos Sanchez's slick pick on a hot shot by Jason Kipnis in the second.
Rodon should've been out of the inning the batter before, but Mike Olt dropped the ball on the exchange after fielding it around baserunner Carlos Santana. Robin Ventura came out to argue interference when replays showed there wasn't any, and it looked like the Chicago manager might've iced his own pitcher when Rodon returned to the mound and fell behind Kipnis 3-0. Rodon battled back, after which Kipnis turned on a full-count fastball and hit a hard one-hopper to second. Sanchez was well-positioned and gloved it on the outfield grass after ranging to his left to keep the game scoreless.
From that point on, Rodon had command of the evening, even with the single run allowed in the fifth, and he finished his night with a pair of strikeouts
*Terry Francona used seven pitchers, and Ventura used David Robertson to record the last out with a three-run lead and nobody on base. September pitching changes suck.
*One of the Cleveland pitchers was Gavin Floyd, though, and it's nice to see him.
*Thompson made his first start against a righty and went 2-for-3 with a walk.
*Abreu had the biggest night: 3-for-4 with a homer, double, two RBIs and two runs scored.
*The start of the game was delayed by 64 minutes in anticipation of rain that never came.