Few things are coming easy for the White Sox, but at least this victory featured some satisfying individual triumphs from the battery.
Carlos Rodon pitched six strong innings against a tough lineup and around some poor defense, while Omar Narvaez put the White Sox ahead with a bloop single in the seventh by way of New York City.
Narvaez came to the plate in his tensest situation yet -- tie game, bases loaded, nobody out, and a dynamic reliever on the mound in Mychal Givens. He fell behind 0-2, fought off another pitch, then took a fastball high and a slider just down and away. Narvaez then fought off two more fastballs before taking another just outside to load up the count.
On the ninth pitch, Givens left a fastball down and over the plate, but Narvaez could only muster a weak fly down the third base line. Manny Machado almost made a fantastic over-the-shoulder catch, but it landed foul ...
... or did it? After a review showed the ball glancing off Machado’s glove and landing on the chalk, Narvaez was credited with an RBI single to give the Sox a 3-2 lead. His effort looked even stronger when Givens struck out Tyler Saladino, Tim Anderson and Melky Cabrera to limit the scoring.
Of course, Adam Eaton led off with eighth with a homer. While the Sox should've had a crooked number somewhere along the line, one insurance run was enough, as David Robertson erased a leadoff walk with a slick game-ending 5-4-3 double play.
Nate Jones was credited with the win, which was deserved enough since he retired all four batters he faced and stranded a runner inherited from Jacob Turner. Rodon, though, pitched some inspired baseball, and only comes away with a no-decision to show for it.
Rodon’s line is good -- 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K — but it doesn’t tell the story. He had runners on the corners and nobody out five pitches in thanks to a fly to right that Avisail Garcia couldn’t close on, and another fly to center that dropped in front of Eaton. Rodon then summoned his biggest fastballs of the year, hitting 100 on the WGN gun (and up to 99.6 mph on Statcast) to strike out Machado, Mark Trumbo and Steve Pearce, the last one on two perfect sliders.
Rodon ran his streak up to five in a row by striking out Chris Davis and J.J. Hardy. Nolan Reimold was able to put part of his bat on a 1-2 slider, but it jammed him so severely that Todd Frazier had to dodge the barrel before fielding the ball, which he did gracefully
The Orioles finally solved Rodon somewhat in the fourth, but Rodon caught a break he didn’t get in the first when Hardy’s drive to deep right bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double. It probably would’ve scored Davis with two outs, but Davis had to hold up at third, and Reimold grounded out to end the inning.
Rodon’s evening ended with a similar battle. He should’ve been able to head to the dugout three batters into the sixth, but Anderson booted a potential double-play ball from Pearce to saddle Rodon with two on and one out. He then walked Davis to load the bases, and Hardy hit a sac fly to right to tie the game at 2. Robin Ventura left him in there to face Reimold, and he punched him out with one more superb slider to keep it tied.
The White Sox offense had a few good shots at Chris Tillman, but weren’t able to really capitalize. Anderson and Cabrera opened the bottom of the first with back-to-back doubles for a 1-0 lead, but Cabrera couldn’t advance any further. In the third, Saladino homered to left and Anderson walked(!!!), but Cabrera grounded into a double play to stunt that inning.
Tillman got the Sox to ground into three double plays over the first six innings, but the Sox denied him a chance at his 15th win in the seventh. Justin Morneau made Tillman sweat before singling on the eighth pitch, and Frazier shot a single to center to start a legit rally. In came Givens to face Garcia, but Garcia surprised with a single to right to load the bases for Narvaez’s heroics.
Narvaez went 1-for-2 with a walk as he continues to make a case for a chunk of Dioner Navarro’s playing time.