When the White Sox beat Oakland by a 6-2 score on Saturday, it was their first victory by more than three runs in more than a month. Even then, it necessitated the services of David Robertson to close it out.
This one was never in question. The Sox took a 1-0 lead two batters into the bottom of the first, and that set the course for their second-most comfortable victory of the season. The only bigger margin of victory came in a 10-1 thrashing of Toronto back on April 26, when the season was young and we were in love.
The love might be lost, but there was a lot to like tonight. For instance: Carlos Rodon's best start of the year. He threw 6⅔ innings of shutout baseball, and Robin Ventura had the rare opportunity to pull a starter based on standing ovation instead of game situation.
The White Sox built their advantage by taking advantage of a favorable matchup on paper. Jake Thompson came into the game with an 8.79 ERA, and the Sox raised it by rearranging it to 9.78. They came through with a rare combination of patience and power, drawing four walks and belting seven of their 11 hits for extra bases.
They started with a triples-based approach. Adam Eaton started the bottom of the first with his team-leading eighth three-bagger and scored on a Tim Anderson groundout. Two innings later, Eaton walked, then scored on an Anderson triple.
They settled into a more conventional attack afterward. Anderson came around to score after a Melky Cabrera walk and a Jose Abreu single, with a Todd Frazier sac fly scoring Cabrera.
Anderson tried to start a fifth-inning rally with a single, but he was picked off. No matter — Cabrera followed with another walk, and Abreu followed with his third homer in as many games. Justin Morneau joined him by going back-to-back to right field, and that saddled Thompson with a disaster start for good.
The Sox then decided to score off the bullpen for once, as Avisail Garcia shanked a double off David Hernandez to start the sixth, and Carlos Sanchez scored him with a single to right. Sanchez moved up on a pair of groundouts and scored on a Cabrera double for the Sox’ ninth and final run.
Rodon didn’t need any of the cushion for his fourth win. He faced an early jam when two of the first three Phillies singled, but he blew away Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp with strikeouts. He finished the night by retiring 15 of the last 16 he faced, and the only one to reach — Peter Bourjos on a leadoff double in the fifth -- didn’t get any further, as Rodon induced three straight groundouts to short.
He allowed just three hits and a walk, throwing 71 of his 109 pitches for strikes. When he departed, the only question was whether the Sox could string together a shutout. Freddy Galvis immediately answered that by taking Chris Beck deep, but Beck and Jacob Turner got through the rest of the game with no other relievers needed.
*Eaton, Anderson, Cabrera and Abreu combined to go 7-for-13 with a double, two triples, a homer and four walks, seven runs and six RBIs. Cabrera was perfect, drawing three walks to go along with the RBI double.
Celebrating the White Sox' second-largest margin of victory this season like pic.twitter.com/GX6PDyZRX1— Phenomenal Source (@SouthSideSox) August 24, 2016